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South Korean court abolishes law criminalizing adultery

Published:Friday | February 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Park Han-chul, president of South Korea's Constitutional Court, sits before the judgment at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday.


A South Korean court yesterday abolished a 62-year-old law that criminalised extramarital affairs, and the stock price of a prominent condom maker immediately shot up 15 per cent.

The Constitutional Court's ruling that the law suppressed personal freedoms could affect many of the more than 5,400 people who have been charged with adultery since 2008, when the court earlier upheld the legislation, according to court law.

Any current charges against those people could be thrown out and those who have received guilty verdicts will be eligible for retrials, according to a court official who declined to be named, citing office rules.

Under the law, having sex with a married person who is not your spouse was punishable by up to two years in prison. Nearly 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted on adultery charges since 1985, but prison terms have been rare.

The stock price of South Korean condom maker Unidus Corp shot up after the court ruling, surging by the daily limit of 15 percent on South Korea's Kosdaq market.




Debate over the adultery ban, which has been part of South Korea's criminal law since 1953, intensified in recent years as fast-changing social trends challenged traditional values.

Supporters of the law said it promoted monogamy and kept families intact, while opponents argued that the government had no right to interfere in people's private lives and sexual affairs.