SEOUL - Saddled with a chronically-low birthrate and an aging population, South Korea faces a demographic cliff which is forecast to also affect the country's armed forces.
So by 2022, the South Korean Army says it plans to cut the number of troops by 100-thousand to 365-thousand.
This was announced in its report submitted Friday to parliament's audit of the government, and it's part of efforts to promote its Defense 2.oh scheme.
There was a cut this year of 20-thousand troops.
The Army said reforms have been carried out already in more than 29 percent of all units with the rest of them to be done by 2025.
And to make up for the loss in troops, it plans to beef up its tech-based capabilities including the early deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles as well as next-generation weapons that use lasers and artificial intelligence.
To better prepare for warfare involving drones, it plans to develop laser-based anti-aircraft systems by 2023 that could cut off small drones at close range.
In 2017, the number of men in their 20s in South Korea was 350-thousand, but by 2022, that number is expected to drop to between 220-thousand and 250-thousand as the country's decades-long low birthrate starts to bite.
At the current rate, the pool of military-eligible men is expected to shrink by 20 to 30-thousand every year from 2023.