For the last 62 years, adultery was against the law in South Korea, drawing prison sentences of up to two years for both lovers. That ended yesterday.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday overturned a law that made adultery a crime, saying it violates the East Asian nation’s constitution. “The precondition of human dignity and right to pursue happiness is for each individual to have their rights to choose their fate,” the court ruled, saying that one’s sex life is private. “And the rights to choose their fate includes rights to be engaged in sex and choosing the partner.”
The chief reason for originally enacting the adultery law was to protect women, these justices contended. The idea was that men — who tended to be economically and socially more powerful — took advantage of women. And if a man was charged criminally, that would give women more leverage in divorce proceedings. (In other words, a wronged wife might get more compensation after deciding to drop the charges.)
Seven of the nine Korean justices ruled that, given women’s social and economic advances, the law was outdated.