S Korean ‘birth map’ sparks outrage, site pulled after just 1 day

S Korean ‘birth map’ sparks outrage, site pulled after just 1 day
South Korea’s government has been accused of treating women like domestic farm animals after launching a website with maps detailing the number of women of childbearing age in certain areas around the country.

Launched by the South Korean Ministry of the Interior on Thursday, the website Birth Korea was live for just one day before it was pulled.

An article shared by the ministry on launch day explained that the project allowed people to view pregnancy graphs “at a glance”, as well as providing statistics on couples tying the knot and “childbirth in the last 10 years.”

“In the future, we plan to carry out a project to raise maternity guidance… and analyze the effect of low-birth rate on local governments,” it said.

The areas with the highest proportion of women age between 15 and 49 were mapped in dark pink, report AP, while areas with fewer women in this demographic were colored light pink.

Negative reaction to the initiative was widespread, with some questioning why the site appeared to only focus on women, while others accused authorities of likening women to cows or vessels for childbirth.

Lee Min-Kyung, a South Korean author, is quoted by AP as saying: “I felt so angered that it blatantly showed how the government saw women’s bodies as the country’s reproductive tools, not that belonging to a woman.”

The inclusion of 15-year-old girls in the statistics also caused concern, with one commenter on the page calling it “disgusting.”  

Another person asked why there were no pictures of men on the website and accused the government of focusing on economic issues rather than the human side of childbirth.

“I think they are thinking of [females] as wombs… Close the site,” they said.

In response to the project, a map showing men with “healthy sperm” was mooted by one commenter to Ministry of Home Affairs Twitter page.

According to Hankyoreh, a South Korean daily newspaper, the Ministry of Government and Home Affairs will revise the website.

“The Republic of Korea birth map is produced to announce the regional birth statistics to the public and to inform the public about the benefits of childbirth support,” a government statement read.

“We are currently in the process of modifying the homepage and will resume service once the modification is complete.”

A message on Birth Korea states the homepage is under construction.

South Korea’s flagging birth rate has become such a concern that there have been suggestions the population could even face extinction.

In 2014, South Korea’s National Assembly Research Service forecast possible extinction by the year 2750, if the low pregnancy trend were to continue.