State Audit Reveals Over 2,000 Undocumented Infants in South Korea; Six Missing or Dead

SEOUL — A total of 2,154 infants born in South Korea between 2015 and 2022 were not officially registered after birth, according to findings disclosed by the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) on Thursday.

Yonhap News Agency reported that the audit was part of BAI's routine review of the health ministry, conducted against the backdrop of several cases involving the abandonment and death of unregistered babies. In a sample investigation of 23 cases, six infants were found to have either died or remain unaccounted for. Among these, a baby born in 2022 died from malnutrition in Changwon, while the whereabouts of another infant born in 2021 in Hwaseong remain unknown.

The lack of birth registration poses significant challenges for these children, including lack of access to routine vaccines, health care services, and schooling. To tackle this issue, the BAI called for a variety of measures, including the use of temporary identification numbers and mandatory reporting of births by medical institutions. Currently, only parents are required to report births, and violators face minimal fines.

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