South Korea Legalizes Adultery, Condom Shares Soar

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

South Korea’s highest court on Thursday lifted its 62-year ban on adultery, leading the stock price of the nation’s top condom and morning-after pill manufacturers to surge, reports the Associated Press.

Latex products manufacturer Unidus Corp.’s stock soared by 15 percent while morning-after birth control pills and pregnancy tester maker Hyundai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s recovered earlier losses and increased by 9.7 after the court decision on the country’s Kosdaq market.

Before the adultery ban was abolished, a married person in South Korea who had sex with someone other than his or her spouse was punishable by up to two years in prison. Prosecutors claim that nearly 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted on infidelity charges since 1985, but prison terms were rarely served. With Thursday’s ruling, more than 5,400 people who have been charged with adultery in South Korea in the last seven years could find themselves free of charges.

“Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals’ private lives,” said presiding justice Park Han-chul.

The Constitutional Court had upheld the adultery ban five times since 1990. In October 2008, the ban came close to being abolished, with five out of seven judges deeming the statute unconstitutional. However, the support of six judges is needed to abolish a law in Korea.

Supporters of the adultery ban claimed that it promoted monogamy and family unity. On the other hand, the opponents argued for decades that such a law goes against the fast-changing social trends and that the government shouldn’t have the right to interfere with people’s private lives.

With South Korea lifting the adultery ban, only Taiwan remains as the only East Asian country that consider extramarital affairs as a criminal act. Japan abolished its ban in 1947 while China considers adultery as a ground for divorce.


Featured image via SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg and Getty Images