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In the last 60 years the typical Korean family has dramatically changed its size due to a drastic drop in the national fertility rates, which plummeted from 6.2 in 1960 to 0.98 in 2018. This transformation was actively supported by population policies that promoted not only a change in behavior but also in values and cultural perceptions on childrearing and family size, mobilizing all sorts of communication media for that purpose. Families with multiple children were associated with negative connotations such as backwardness, poverty, unhappiness, and lack of education or parental responsibility, making of it an abnormal, and later on invisible, reality. Since the mid-2000s however, following the rising concern of government officials for the decreasing fertility rates and coinciding with the enactment of childbirth encouragement policies, there has been an increasing visibility of multichild families (two or more children) in local media and popular culture. This paper examines the multi-child family representations involved in these reactions to population policy by identifying patterns of representation and critically analyzing their cultural meaning. Specifically, it focuses on how these representations confirm, contradict, contrast, or interact in complex ways with existing discourses on family and parenting and with new policies.
fertility, multi-child families, parenting, media representation, popular culture, population policy, birth encouragement