Concerns about a decline in the South Korean birth rate.

The South Korean government is currently launching a new high-speed train service that will reduce the travel time between central Seoul and its outskirts. Their main hope is to encourage more youth to consider homes outside the city, with the expectation that they will then start families and have babies. Young people have often cited long commutes and cramped, expensive housing in greater Seoul, as the main reasons for not getting married and starting a family, and so officials are now pinning their hopes on the Great Train eXpress (GTX). This is a 134 trillion won ($99.5 billion) underground speed train project that will provide six lines linking Seoul to several outlying areas by 2035.

“Less time spent commuting will enable people to spend more time with their family in the mornings and evenings,” said President Yoon Suk Yeol as he inaugurated a section of the first line. And Land Minister Park Sang-woo said that “the GTX would allow young people to consider less expensive homes far away from the capital. The time they get back can go towards their families. The idea is to give people more leisure time after work. After all, when they face a two-hour commute on the way home, for example, how can they make time for babies?” he said.

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