'Half of ethnic Korean women in China underwent abortion': study

PHOTO: The Straits Times

More than half of ethnic Korean women in China have had an abortion at least once, while the population of ethnic Koreans in general continues to decline, a Chinese study showed.

The study, written by Choi Seon-hyang from Qingdao Huanghai School, surveyed a total of 161 ethnic Korean women living across China. Almost 80 per cent of them attended post-secondary education, and the largest number of them were either schoolteachers or university professors.

Her study found that 55.6 per cent of the surveyed women have had an abortion at least once in their lives, with 18.1 per cent of them having had the procedure twice.

Meanwhile, the population of ethnic Koreans has been on the decline in China since 1973, partly because of China's one-child policy, Choi's study claimed.

According to the study, ethnic Koreans are allowed to have more than one child by the Chinese authorities. However, the proportion of ethnic Korean households with a single child is still 15.6 per cent higher than the same figure for Chinese households, and 25.17 per cent higher than the proportion of households of other ethnic minority groups with a single kid.

Choi said many factors contribute to the statistics, including high expectations ethnic Koreans have for their children.

"Many think it's their duty to educate their children as much as they can," Choi said at a recent academic forum in Seoul.

"That's why I think many ethnic Korean women in China decide to have one child and even have abortions, because having one child increases your chance of supporting the kid as much as possible."

Choi's study also showed that a large number of the surveyed individuals were concerned about the declining population of ethnic Koreans in China, while not opting to have more than one child at the same time. While 71.7 per cent of the surveyed Koreans said the population decline is a serious problem, 53.4 per cent said the issue was heavily affecting the ethnic Korean community in China.

When asked about the reasons they think are behind ethnic Koreans' low fertility rate, 87 per cent of them pointed to financial difficulties, while 50.2 per cent of them said it was due to a lack of child care support.

While 64.4 per cent of married Koreans said they hoped their children would marry a fellow ethnic Korean, only 56.6 per cent of the unmarried individuals who participated in the study said they were only willing to marry someone with Korean heritage.

"Ethnic Koreans are now living everywhere across China, whereas many of them only stayed in Yanbian County in the past," Choi said. "More Koreans are marrying non-Koreans as well. The ethnic Korean community in China is going through many changes."

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