Is it okay to commit adultery in South Korea now?

The Filipino netizens in South Korea buzzed about the attention-grabbing headline of the Inquirer on Thursday:

Is adultery legal in Korea now?
Is adultery legal in Korea now?

As expected not a few of those who reacted did not read the whole story ~ and commented based on the headline. I had to ask someone in the know about the news article.

Adultery was a crime in South Korea until yesterday. It means that a person guilty of it could be punished with imprisonment of up to two years. Since the court has decriminalized adultery, the guilty party will not go to prison anymore.

Does it make it okay to cheat against a legal partner? Of course not. Decriminalizing adultery does not mean that adultery is acceptable. It is just what it is ~ not a criminal act. The government will just not pour its resources into managing the private lives of its people. So taxpayers will not have to spend money in sending a person to jail for cheating against a wife or husband. Adultery as a crime has not been a deterrent for people to seek sexual gratification outside their marriage. In South Korea, “love motels” are everywhere.

According to the person I asked, adultery is still ground for divorce and the offended party may ask for compensation for mental and emotional damages.

There are only two non-Muslim countries in Asia where adultery is a crime: Taiwan and the Philippines. In the Philippines, adultery is committed when a woman cheats on her husband even once. Whereas, for the husband to be criminally liable for cheating he has to be cohabiting with another woman or keeping her at the family home.

It is high time that adultery be decriminalized. It is not a crime in most countries ~ like in the USA and in Europe. There are more violent crimes that the government needs to attend to. In the end, it is still NOT okay to commit adultery in South Korea. It is not acceptable, but it is also not a crime anymore.

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