Seoul City Launches 1.8 Trillion-Won Initiative to Boost Birth RatesPaldo Targets Indonesian Halal Food Market with Traditional Sweet Rice Beverage

SEOUL, South Korea - In response to the country's declining birth rates, the Seoul city government has unveiled a comprehensive 1.8 trillion won (US$1.35 billion) "birth encouragement" project for 2023. This initiative aims to provide financial support to residents to help them start and raise families, addressing the alarming drop in the nation's fertility rates. The total fertility rate in South Korea plummeted to a record low of 0.78 in 2022, with Seoul experiencing the lowest rate nationwide at 0.59.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The new project includes a range of supportive measures, such as expanding the availability of public spaces for wedding halls and increasing subsidies for infertility treatments and egg freezing. Monthly childcare subsidies will be elevated to 1 million won for parents of babies under one year old and to 500,000 won for one-year-olds, up from the current 700,000 won and 350,000 won, respectively. Starting in May, the city plans to offer incentives to small businesses that adopt child-rearing friendly labor policies.

Officials also announced the introduction of special early-morning childcare centers in April, aimed at assisting working parents. Additionally, the number of public 24-hour childcare centers and weekend nurseries will be increased to 17 and 21, respectively. The city aims to expand home care services to benefit 10,000 households, up from 6,000, including pregnant women, working parents, and large families. A pilot project to provide immigrant domestic helpers to 100 qualifying families is set to begin in the first half of this year, offering support to single parents, working parents, and expecting mothers for six months.

SEOUL — Paldo Co., a prominent South Korean food manufacturer, announced plans on Tuesday to penetrate the Indonesian halal food market by exporting its traditional sweet rice beverage, Birak Shikhye, with halal certification. The company has secured approval from the Halal Product Assurance Organizing Agency (BPJPH) of Indonesia, allowing Paldo's shikhye, often enjoyed as a dessert, to be sold in discount store chains and supermarkets across the country.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Paldo successfully obtained the halal certificate for its shikhye product in June of the previous year, following the halal certification of its Pororo kids drinks in 2018 for distribution in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. Paldo is also striving to gain halal certification for its ramyeon products, including popular items like Paldo Bibimmyeon, Paldo doshirak, and Paldo Wangttugeong cup ramyeon, aiming to expand its footprint in the local halal market. This move comes ahead of Indonesia's plan to enforce halal certification for all imported food items, excluding fresh agricultural produce, starting from October. Halal food encompasses products prepared according to Islamic Sharia law, covering a wide range of items beyond meat, including fruits and vegetables.

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