South Korea had its first year of natural population decline in 2020 meaning the total number of deaths has outnumbered the number of births.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, a total of 272,400 babies were born last year, down 10 percent from a year earlier.
It's the first time that the figure has dipped below the 300-thousand mark.
The number of newborns per year had hovered in the 400-thousands for 15 years since 2002, but later dropped into the 300-thousands from 2017 and has now dropped into the 200-thousands.
The country's fertility rate, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime, slipped to a fresh low of 0.84.
The figure has remained below 1 for the third straight year.
The rate is also far below the OECD's 2018 average fertility rate of 1.63.
The data from Statistics Korea also shows that there were more deaths than births last year.
More than 305-thousand deaths were recorded in 2020, up 3.4 percent from the previous year resulting in a population decline of about 33-thousand.
This means the country's natural population is falling.
Statistics Korea explained that the natural population decline is due to falling birthrates, along with the rise in the number of deaths from an aging population.
The agency also said that the decline could get steeper.
"A natural fall in population could speed up as the number of marriages sharply declined last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to further reduce the number of births.
Other institutions have made similar predictions.
In a report published in December, the Bank of Korea warned that the country's falling birthrate and aging population would likely accelerate due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.