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Posted : 2008-10-30 17:54
Updated : 2008-10-30 17:54

Criminalizing Adultery Constitutional

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the adultery law that punishes extramarital affairs is constitutional.

It is the fourth time that the court has reviewed adulter cases and delivered a verdict in favor of the 55-year-old law.

The ruling comes after actress Ok So-ri, who was sued by her former husband for adultery, filed a petition with the court in February against the application of criminal law to adultery.

``The case is about privacy and the right to choose sexual relations. But the law does not violate the constitutional principle banning excessive restriction of such rights. The law is a measure to keep marital order, which is the basis of the family,'' the court said Thursday.

``Society still recognizes that adultery damages social order. The punishment of a two-year jail term is not excessive when comparing it with responsibility,'' it said.

According to the law, those convicted of adultery are subject to two years in prison without other punitive options.

Ok and those against the law have claimed that sexual life, which is private and is caused from emotion, should not be subject to a criminal punishment, saying the law infringed on the right of individual choice in sexual relations and the right to privacy.
They also claimed the law, which stipulates only a two-year prison term, is against the principle banning excessive punishment.

Following the ruling, the trial on Ok's adultery, which had been suspended until the Constitutional Court's decision came, is likely to resume soon.

In the previous rulings in 1990, 1993 and 2001, the court concluded it was constitutional to criminalize adultery.

This time, five out of the nine justices of the court said the law was unconstitutional, however at least two thirds of them ― six ― have to agree on this.

About 1,200 people have been indicted annually on charges of adultery over the last three years. But only a small portion of them has actually been put imprisoned.

rahnita@koreatimes.co.kr

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