Adultery in South Korea

 Adultery law used to exact revenge by spouses

21st August

Adultery Law Encourages Rush to Divorce...

South Korea adultery law does not apply during divorce proceedings

South Korea flag Having sex with a third party during consensual divorce proceedings is not illegal, South Korea's supreme court has ruled, even though adultery remains a criminal offence in the country.

The court Sunday overruled a lower court's conviction of a man surnamed Chung who had an affair with a bar hostess during divorce proceedings, a court official told AFP.

The lower court had given Chung and the hostess a suspended six-month prison sentence, a ruling upheld by an appeal court.

Adultery is punishable by up to two years in jail in South Korea.

The supreme court ruled that Chung and his wife had no intention of continuing their married life and therefore sex with a new partner did not constitute an offence.

The constitutional court is meanwhile considering whether to scrap the adultery law altogether following a petition from top actress Ok So-Ri, who says it infringes personal freedoms. The constitutional court has rejected three previous appeals against the 54-year-old law on the grounds that social morality may be weakened.


28th November

Update: Spousal Vengeance Laws...

Adultery is still a criminal offence in South Korea

South Korea flag South Korean prosecutors have demanded an 18-month jail term for a popular actress who admitted breaking the country's strict laws on adultery.

Ok So-ri had sought to overturn the 50-year old legislation, which carries a maximum jail sentence of two years.

She said it was an infringement of human rights and amounted to revenge.

But in October the constitutional court ruled for the fourth time that adultery must remain a crime, saying it was damaging to social order.

Ms Ok has admitted having an affair with a well-known pop singer and her husband, Park Chul, is said to be seeking a severe sentence.

Ms Ok's lawyers have said the legislation has degenerated into a means of revenge by the spouse, rather than a means of saving a marriage.

The Korean Times says that in the past three years about 1,200 people have been indicted annually for adultery, but very few have been jailed. The case has created a sensation in South Korea, say correspondents, where many have denounced what they see as an archaic law.


20th December

Update: Spousal Vengeance Laws...

Adultery is still a criminal offence in South Korea

South Korea flag One of South Korea's best-known actresses, Ok So-ri, has been given a suspended prison sentence of eight months for adultery.

She admitted the offence and the court suspended the sentence for two years.

The trial took place after Ms Ok failed to get the constitutional court to overturn the strict law that makes adultery a criminal offence. In her petition she said the law was an infringement of human rights and amounted to revenge.

The law has been challenged four times, but the country's top judges have always ruled that adultery is damaging to social order, and the offence should therefore remain a crime.

South Korea is one of the few remaining non-Muslim countries where adultery remains a criminal offence. A person found guilty of adultery can be jailed for up to two years. More than 1,000 people are charged each year, although, as in this case, very few are actually sent to jail.

Its opponents claim the law is often abused as a means of revenge or securing greater financial divorce settlements; and say in reality those who suffer under the law are most often women

In this case, Ms Ok was sued by her former husband, Park Chul. She admitted having an affair with a well-known pop singer, and blamed it on a loveless marriage to Park.

Judges in Seoul also gave Ms Ok's lover a six-month suspended term.