South Korea’s Constitutional Court has ruled that adultery is no longer a crime.
In a 7-2 decision, the nine-member bench declared on Thursday that Article 241 of the criminal code is unconstitutional, Yonhap reported.
The ruling reflects the growing importance of personal choice over marital order in a traditionally group-oriented society, the news agency said.
“The article violates individuals’ freedom to choose their sexual partners and their right to privacy,” according to the majority decision. “Not only is the anti-adultery law gradually losing its place in the world, it no longer reflects our people’s way of thinking.”
In their dissenting opinion, two justices said the law was necessary to protect sexual ethics and the institution of marriage.
South Korea had been one of the few remaining countries in Asia that prohibits infidelity, next to North Korea and Taiwan.
About 100,000 people across the country have been convicted for violating the law, BBC News said, citing local media reports. According to Thursday’s ruling, those indicted or convicted of adultery after Oct. 30, 2008, the day the law was last reviewed, may ask for a suspension of indictment or a retrial.
Extramarital affairs had been banned under the criminal law since 1953, and before that, only women were held accountable for the offense.
Those convicted were usually jailed for up to two years. In Taiwan, by comparison, the maximum sentence is normally just a year.
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