South Koreans live 12 years more than their compatriots in the North on average, mainly due to fewer newborn deaths, government data showed Sunday.
According to Statistics Korea, the life expectancy of a South Korean stood at 78.2 years for men and 85 for women. Corresponding numbers for North Korea were 66 for men and 72.7 for women.
This translates into an average South Korean man living 12.2 years longer than one in the North, while a South Korean woman could expect to live 12.3 years longer.
The latest estimate showed that if current trends continue, the gap could widen to 14.5 years for men and shrink to 11.9 years for women by 2055.
In that year, a South Korean man’s life expectancy could hit 85.9 years and that for a woman could reach 89.8 years.
The statistical agency said the major reason for the difference can be found in the high infant mortality rate in North Korea.
In 2015, the number of infant deaths in the North for every 1,000 newborns reached 22, 7.6 times larger than the 2.9 deaths for the South.
Predictions showed that the infant mortality rate in the North could fall to 7.1 newborns for every 1,000 in 2055, but this would still be larger than 0.6 deaths estimated for the South in the same year.
In addition, the latest findings showed the average North Korean consumed 2,094 kilocalorie (kcal) of food per day compared with 3,056 kcal for a South Korean. The number for the North falls shy of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAOs) daily recommendation of 2,500 kcal, as well as the global average of 2,870 kcal.
In particular, the consumption of animal protein by a person living in the North hovered around 10.1 grams per day, one-fifth the number of 50.5 grams for South Korea.
In terms of gender balance, South Korea had more men, while the North had more women.
Last year for every 100 women, there were 100.1 men in the South, while for the North the number stood at 95.3.