At 10 years old, Lyoo Chan-hee wishes he wasn't one of the last three schoolkids left playing on the beaches of Nokdo island.
"It would be great if I have more friends here because I can have more options to play," said Chan-hee. Instead, he often plays with Kim Si-young - aged 66, and one of the last 100 or so residents of a once-vibrant fishing village emblematic of the demographic crisis unfolding in South Korea.
"My first one (Chan-hee) needs to go to a middle school in two years ... I want to give some hope (to folks on the island) by finding a way to give middle school education to Chan-hee from here," Lyoo said.
For Chan-hee, Nokdo is the place to be, even without extra friends.
"Seoul is so crowded, noisy and the air is not good," said Chan-hee. "Nokdo has no traffic, isn't noisy and the air is clean. I can play outside more actively, so I like it here."
PHOTO EDITING MARIKA KOCHIASHVILI; TEXT EDITING MICHAEL COLLETT-WHITE; LAYOUT JULIA DALRYMPLE.