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South Korea Legalizes Adultery After 62 Years
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Summary: South Korea has defeated a 62-year-old law against adultery, making it legal in the country. 

The Constitutional Court of South Korea legalized adultery on Thursday, according to The New York Times.


The law was 62-years-old and came with two years in prison if convicted. The court cited the changing sexual mores of the country and a push for individual rights as to why the law was defeated.

Five of the nine justices on the court said, “It has become difficult to say that there is a consensus on whether adultery should be punished as a criminal offense. It should be left to the free will and love of people to decide whether to maintain marriage, and the matter should not be externally forced through a criminal code.”

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The justices also noted that they doubt the law was still useful in preventing adultery from taking place.

Since keeping track beginning in 1985, an estimated 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted under the law.

Fewer people have been spending time in prison lately due to plaintiffs reaching financial settlements with spouses.

The law was adopted back in 1953 as an effort to protect women against cheating husbands.

The law had been challenged four times in front of the Constitutional Court since 1990 prior to this successful attempt. The most recent attempt prior to this one came in 2008. It was filed by actress Ok So-ri, whose husband filed a complaint against her. The law came within one vote of being struck down back in 2008.

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Two justices voted to declare the law unconstitutional for other reasons. One reason was that adultery should be punished, but not with a prison sentence. The vote needed to be two-thirds majority in order to strike down the law.

The final two justices placed votes to uphold the law, saying that getting rid of it could lead to “disorder in sexual morality,” undermine family life and encourage affairs.

An official from the Ministry of Gender Equality, Anh Il-hwan, said the ministry respects the decision, “However, we need to prepare measures to protect the women victimized by adultery and will deliberate with relevant bodies to do so.”

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Source: New York Times


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