May 8, 2014

Adultery in Korea: Suspended Sentences Under Korean Law

News of the Korean authorities having blocked adultering spouse hook-up site “Ashley Madison" has been getting a lot of attention this month.  Citing moral issues, the Korean government blocked internet users from accessing the site from Korea.  Those that are more tech savvy can, obviously, get around this block.

The Republic of Korea is one of the few countries in the industrialized world where adultery is a criminal offense and still punished.  It is, however, rare for someone to be imprisoned under the adultery law.  Only a few years back, however, imprisonment was not all that uncommon.

It is notable that under this law, a guilty verdict does not necessary result in an immediate prison sentence.  It is actually very common in Korea for courts to suspend prison sentences, even when that party has been found guilty.

While the Korean Criminal Act provides an adulterer be punished by imprisonment for up to two years, it also states that the execution of the sentence be for a period of not less than one year but not more than five years. These days it is the tendency of Korean Courts to grant a suspended imprisonment sentence for adulterers in all but the most flagrant of cases. This, however, is contingent on whether the convicted party has a prior record as well as other factors such as whether the convicted party confesses or shows remorse.

Hey, just don't get involved in an adulterous relationship in Korea unless you are prepared for many headaches and a decent-sized legal bill.
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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 first non-Korean attorney to have worked 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. He has, recently, been ranked as one of only two non-Korean attorneys as a Top Attorney working in Korea by AsiaLaw.