In 2035, one out of every three Korean men will face the prospect of remaining single for life, and when women are included, the proportion will be one in four, according to a projection by Statistics Korea.
The figures are similar to those in a Japanese government forecast for 2035. But Korea is expected to surpass its neighboring country from then on in terms of the proportion of "never married" people -- those who are not married until they are about 50.
The proportion is calculated by averaging the percentages of single people between 45 and 49 and those between 50 and 54.
Statistics Korea on Thursday released its most recent population projections. Among its predictions were that the proportion of "never married" people will double to 16.6 percent in 2025 and triple to 24.6 percent in 2035 from 8 percent in 2015.
For men, the figure is forecast to rise from 10.9 percent in 2015 to 20.7 percent in 2025 and 29 percent in 2035. For women, it will rise from 5 percent to 12.2 percent and 19.2 percent over the same period.
An official at Statistics Korea said, "The number of marriages has declined steadily since 2011. It fell from 300,000 in 2015 to 280,000 last year. This year, the number of marriages through July was down 5 percent from the same period last year."
"We estimate the future population every five years using the percentage of unmarried people over the previous 15 years, but the actual figures have always exceeded our projections. That shows just how fast the number of single people is increasing," the official added.
In 2005, for example, it was forecast that the percentage of "never married" men in 2015 would be 7.6 percent, while in 2010 it was forecast at 9.2 percent. But the actual figure in 2015 was 10.9 percent. For women, the actual percentage was 5 percent in 2015, compared to estimates of 3.9 percent in 2005 and 4.3 percent in 2010.