The city of Seoul recently broke its own record for the city with the lowest fertility rate in the world. The country of South Korea has the world’s lowest fertility rate, at 0.78. However, the city of Seoul has a fertility rate of just 0.59, far below the population replacement rate of 2.1. At current rates, the population of Seoulites will be reduced by more than 70 percent in a single generation. It is a population crisis. And so, the Seoul Metropolitan Government recently announced the “Mom and Dad Happiness Project,” with the hopes of encouraging more baby-making.
Overview of the Mom and Dad Happiness Project
The government of Seoul said that as many as 28 projects will be implemented to ease the burden of parents and create a social atmosphere in which raising children is respected. In all the city will invest 14 trillion won, beginning with 200.2 billion this year.
With these projects, the Government of Seoul wants parents to feel as though the Seoul Metropolitan Government raises children together with parents.
Based on the vision of “Seoul, a good city to raise babies”, the city government is working to improve the following areas:
1. Safe care
2. Comfortable going out
3. Health healing
4. Work-life balance
Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi
One of the first projects that are being implemented is the Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi (서울엄마아빠 택시). This service will offer affordable taxi services to parents with infants. Going around Seoul on public transportation with infants is extremely difficult, and often dangerous during commuting hours. As such, the service will provide taxis with ample space for things such as car seats and strollers for a small subscription fee.
It is scheduled to begin in May. The service will begin as part of a pilot program and is expected to be fully operational by August 2023.
Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi Pilot Program
The pilot program must be applied for directly through your local district office. The following are districts participating in the Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi Pilot Program:
Yongsan, Seongdong, Gwangjin, Dongdaemun, Jungnang, Seongbuk, Gangbuk, Dobong, Mapo, Yangcheon, Gangseo, Geumcheon, Yeongdeungpo, Gwanak, Seocho, Gwangdong
Future Plans for Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi
In August of 2023, the app Seoul Child Care ‘Manneung Key’ (서울 출산육아 ‘만능키‘) is set to launch. After verification, you will be able to call a Seoul Mom and Dad Taxi directly through the app, as well as access other childcare services. You will need to submit documents related to your area of residence and your child’s birth.
So far, they have said that the service will cost 100,000 won annually and parents will be allotted points that they can use for different services.
For questions about the program, please contact: Family Multicultural Officer (02-2133-8689)
Thoughts and Opinions
Kids Require A lot of Everything
When I go out with my child, I have a lot of luggage to pack, so it’s very hard to take public transportation. With a heavy stroller, especially the ones needed for winter, I lose all of my strength just getting out the door. Also, there are often stairs, ramps that are too steep, and other obstacles that make traveling with a stroller very hard.
Public Transportation in Seoul is NOT for Kids
Additionally, most people in Seoul are not used to children. People do not react well to crying babies, or toddlers running around. Then during rush hour, conditions are extremely unsafe for children. Fully grown adults have trouble staying standing with so many people crammed into buses and subways. I cannot take my child into that situation.
As for personal experiences taking public transportation with a young child, I have found it extremely frustrating. I do not know why, but green buses do not have ramps. It is extremely difficult to load a stroller into green buses. As a result, when I am alone with my child, I need help. I need an extra person to either hold my son or lift the stroller onto the bus. I cannot do both at the same time. Often the driver or other passengers are in a rush and don’t help and even get angered by the situation. Overall, I have found that only blue buses have ramps that can be deployed quickly enough to not upset everyone.
When I have opted for a taxi, the situation also hasn’t been good. Taxis don’t stop for me when I’m with my child. And, even when I have gotten a Kakao Taxi, I’ve actually been denied service after they arrive.
Loading a child into a taxi takes time, and for them time is money. Also, with a stroller, they often complain or simply don’t have enough room for it in the trunk. I’ve also been told to put the stroller in the back seat and sit with the child on my lap in the front. However, it is illegal and unsafe to do so. Some drivers have also become very hostile when my son cries or starts making noises.
Overall, I find it really sad that so many people are intolerant of children here in Seoul. I do think that the attitude towards children in public settings, such as transportation contributes to the low birth rate. Hopefully, this will at least make parents’ lives in Seoul a little better.
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Want to learn about more benefits for parents in Seoul? Click Here to read about the Grandparent Care Allowance!