N. Korea doles out gifts to participants in mothers' conference
North Korea has held a meeting to hand out gifts to participants in the latest national conference of mothers, state media reported Wednesday, in an apparent move to secure their loyalty amid a declining birth rate.
The central committee of the ruling Workers' Party provided the participants with significant gifts "associated with the meticulous paternal affection" of leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim did not attend Tuesday's event, but the Korean Central News Agency said he made sure that "the kind and number of gifts are chosen suited to" the tastes of the participants.
Kim called for measures to prevent a decline in North Korea's birth rate at the Fifth National Conference of Mothers, which closed a two-day session Monday. It was the first meeting of mothers in 11 years.
South Korea's unification ministry said Kim publicly mentioned a fall in the birth rate for the first time, an indication that North Korea is grappling with the issue.
North Korea's total fertility rate -- the number of children that are expected to be born to a woman over her lifetime -- came to 1.8 in 2023, according to data posted on the website of the UN Population Fund. It is much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep North Korea's population stable at 26 million.
North Korea last held a national conference of mothers in 2012. The inaugural gathering took place in November 1961. (Yonhap)