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1st baby born in 2024 is gift to couple who struggled through 12 years of infertility

Jan. 1, 2024 - 17:30 By Yoon Min-sik
The first South Korean baby born in 2024 is held in his father's arms, at the Cha Gangnam Medical Center in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

The first South Korean officially born in the New Year is a healthy, 3.15-kilogram boy, born to a couple who struggled to conceive for over a decade.

Cha Gangnam Medical Center in Seoul said Monday that the baby boy was born exactly at midnight of the year 2024, making him the first person to be born in the country in the new year. The boy was conceived through in vitro fertilization to 44-year-old Lee Ju-hong and 38-year-old Im A-yeon.

"(Our baby's birth) is even more special because we've been married since June, 2016, and had him through in vitro fertilization. We sincerely wish the best for all the couples with fertility issues across the country," Im was quoted as saying.

Lee echoed his wife's sentiments and expressed his wishes for state policies supporting couples that are having trouble getting pregnant.

A low fertility rate is something the country has been battling for years. Korea's total fertility rate -- the number of children a woman is expected to have during her life time -- was already the lowest in the world at 0.78 in 2022, and is expected to plunge to 0.68 in 2024, according to Statistics Korea.

The child, whose official name has not been given and is currently being called by his nickname "A-hong," was born in the "gabjin" year, according to the Chinese zodiac classification scheme. This refers to the Year of the Blue Dragon, which is considered an animal of authority and bravery in Korean traditional folklore.