J Korean Soc Matern Child Health.  2020 Jul;24(3):170-180. 10.21896/jksmch.2020.24.3.170.

Comparison of Maternal and Child Health Statistics between South and North Korea

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, CHA Ilsan Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea


This study aimed to investigate the extent of the difference in health status between South Korea (SK) and North Korea (NK) by comparing indicators relevant to maternal and child health.
The maternal and child health status of SK and NK considering population, birth, and mortality was reviewed using 2 Korean statistics, United Nations Children’s Fund, and United Nations databases from 1950 to 2017.
The annual number of total live births in SK had decreased from 1,006,600 in 1970 to 326,900 in 2018, and that in NK had declined from 530,000 in 1970 to 360,000 in 2015. The percentage of children among the total population was higher in NK than in SK, and the decrease in the percentage of children in SK is remarkable, which is related to a low fertility rate in the last few decades. However, the mortality rates related to children were higher in NK than in SK. In 2017, neonatal mortality rates (per 1,000 live births) in SK and NK were 1.5 and 9.0, respectively. The fertile female population of SK and NK in 2015 was 50.2% and 52.0%, respectively, and SK and NK’s aging index (%) in 2017 was 107.3 and 46.1, re spectively.
This study shows the different population distributions and maternal and child health statuses between SK and NK, which may have a negative impact on social integration after reunification. Therefore, it is important to understand the indicators of maternal and child health to become the powerbase of effi cient healthcare system integration by minimizing the impact at the beginning of the reunification.


Child health; Maternal health; Birth rate; Infant mortality; Korea
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