On Thursday, South Korea’s Constitutional Court struck down a 62-year old law that made committing adultery a crime punishable by up to a two year prison sentence. The law was struck down by a vote of 7-2 with judges stating that, even if adultery is condemned as immoral, the law violates people’s personal privacy and freedom to pursue their own individual happiness. This issue was previously visited in 2008 where the courts upheld the law. Since then, around 5,500 individuals have been charged with adultery, though few have actually been sentenced to prison.
While it has been said that the law was originally put into place to protect the rights of women and give them more legal leverage in cases where men have taken advantage of them, the judges say that times have changed and the law no longer fulfills that duty. In fact, some go as far as to say that due to the increasing number of female offenders, the law has become a way for people to publicly name and shame women.
Proponents of the original law argue that legalizing adultery is damaging to family values, could add to the already growing divorce rates in the country, and promote sexual depravity.