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South Korea court upholds adultery ban

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of South Korea [official website] upheld a law criminalizing adultery on Thursday, rejecting complaints that the 55-year-old law is outdated and constitutes an invasion of privacy. The challenge was brought by the lawyers of popular South Korean actress Ok So Ri, who was charged under the law [JoongAng Daily backgrounder] when her husband filed a criminal complaint against her for having an extramarital affair with an opera singer. Although only four of the nine judges supported the ban, the law remains valid; South Korean law requires a minimum of six judges oppose a statute in order to abolish it. Reuters has more. The Korea Times has local coverage.

Although it is rare for people to be jailed in South Korea [JURIST news archive] under the adultery law – in 2007, only 47 people were jailed while 592 were given suspended sentences – thousands of spouses continue to file criminal complaints. In 2005, a group of South Korean lawmakers introduced a parliamentary proposal to scrap the law, but backlash from conservative voters caused the effort to stall. Ri's challenge marks the fourth such challenge since 1989, with previous challenges brought in 1990, 1993 and 2001 [BBC report].

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