Annulments have been nearly impossible to obtain in Korea when parties have voluntarily married and the marriage was properly registered. However,courts have been, recently, willing to entertain colorful arguments in some cases.
Recently, a young married couple obtained an annulment based on some interesting facts. The couple lived together with the sister of the husband prior to marriage. They were living, according to the couple, just as friends. Thus, the couple were not having sexual relations.
The employer of the male asked about his marital status and he advised the employer that he was single. The company discovered that he was living with a woman. Employees of the company were not amused and requested that he clarify the situation. The man, then, fearing for his job requested the woman to marry him. They married. The woman claimed they she, only, married because she felt bad for the man.
The case is interesting since the case doesn't rest on whether the marriage was voluntary, but focused on the intent of the marriage. The court opined that : "The marriage was a hoax with the only intention being him not getting fired." Seemingly, at least one court in Korea will accept that if someone purpose of marriage was not simply to marry, but for other reasons - a marriage may be annulled.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.