SEOUL, July 23 (UPI) -- The number of fathers taking time off work in South Korea for child care surged by 66 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Seoul's Labor Ministry said the number of men taking paid paternity leave jumped from last year's 5,101 to 8,463 in the first half of this year. As of June, men consisted of 17 percent of 50,589 South Koreans on family leave.
More than half of fathers taking paid paternity leave are from large corporations with more than 300 employees.
The percentage of fathers on family leave increased gradually from 2 percent in 2011 to 17 percent this year as part of a nationwide campaign for gender equality in child care, and to tackle the lowest-ever fertility rate of 1.05 births per woman.
The South Korean government announced it will pay a maximum 2 million won ($1,767) in an allowance for the first three months of paternity leave starting this month, an increase from 1.5 million ($1,325) last year.
The government allows parents with children under 8 to take family leave for up to one year. If a company refuses, it can be fined for up to 5 million won ($4,418).