- 35,000 people jailed for cheating on spouses since 1985
- Condom makers’ stocks soar after ruling
A Canadian website for people looking to cheat on their spouses is taking partial credit for the abolition of a South Korean law that made adultery illegal.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a 52-year-old law that made cheating on your spouse punishable by up to two years in prison.
The move was hailed by Ashley Madison, a Toronto-based dating site for people looking to cheat on their spouses, which has been embroiled in a year-long battle with the South Korean government.
“Without question, we are very happy to see that our efforts to bring change to South Korea have directly helped to modernize the country’s laws,” Ashley Madison CEO said in a statement.
Ashley Madison opened up shop in South Korea last April, and the site drew more than 50,000 subscribers within two weeks, before South Korean authorities blocked access to it on suspicion of illegal activity.
The website launched a lawsuit against South Korea’s government, accusing it of “uncompetitive acts” by banning the website, while allegedly allowing similar local websites to continue operating. That lawsuit is still ongoing.
Biderman said the company’s foray into South Korea has “given a voice to the desires of the South Korean people that has in turn changed the regulatory landscape and allowed for their improved free will."
Some 53,000 South Koreans have been indicted on adultery charges since the government started keeping track in 1985, the New York Times reports. Of those, some 35,000 were imprisoned. But in recent years, penalties issued by courts got lighter, and few people were being sent to prison.
More than 5,000 people who have been convicted of adultery since 2008 (the last time South Korea’s top court visited the issue) will be able to apply to have their cases retried or dropped.
According to the Guardian, South Korea passed the adultery ban in 1953 to protect wives who were financially dependent on their husbands. Women had few property rights at the time, but with the social changes of recent decades giving women a greater degree of independence, many viewed the law as having become outdated.
Seven of nine judges agreed to overturn the law, arguing the law “infringes people’s right to make their own decisions on sex and secrecy and freedom of their private life.”
Two judges dissented, with one arguing that the ruling will “spark a surge in debauchery.”
The judges also noted that divorcees had started using the law as a way of “blackmailing” their estranged spouses during divorce proceedings.
Ashley Madison says the ruling “opens the door for the company’s re-entry into the Korean market,” but it’s not the only business cheering the end of South Korea’s adultery ban.
Shares of Unidus, South Korea’s largest condom maker, soared 15 per cent on news of the ruling — the maximum amount a stock can appreciate in one day under Korean securities laws.
Shares of Hyundai Pharmaceutical, which makes a morning-after pill, jumped 9.7 per cent.
Also on HuffPost: