04:10 GMT +306 December 2019
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    South Korea’s Top Court Rules No Divorce Rights for Adulterous Spouses

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    South Korea's Supreme Court on Tuesday forbade a man from divorcing his wife whom he left 15 years ago for a new family, upholding current legislation that "the spouse who is mainly responsible for a broken marriage cannot file for divorce."

    In South Korea, adultery was considered a crime punishable under the law until February 2015, when the country's Constitutional Court overturned the law. But even though unfaithful husbands and wives no longer risk a two-year prison sentence for their infidelity, they are still banned from seeking divorce proceedings.

    But a closely-watched Supreme Court case challenged this law. It involved a man who, despite being married, had been living with his lover for the past 15 years, Regional Posts reported. Attorneys for the plaintiff, whose "unlawful" partner gave birth to a child in 1998, claimed that the marriage was permanently and irreparably broken, and that the man should be able to initiate a divorce regardless of his wife's wishes.

    Just like the February decision to decriminalize infidelity, the new case drew a substantial public response. Many complained that changes in the country's divorce law would encourage adultery and could be particularly harmful for women, as the "divorcee" label carries a particularly strong stigma for Korean women.

    In the end, the 13-judge Supreme Court ruled seven to six against any change in the law, reiterating that those responsible for a marital breakdown cannot file for divorce.

    However, if both sides agree on a settlement, a broken marriage can be legally ended, often with significant financial compensation to the wronged party.

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    Tags:
    South Korea, marital affairs, adultery, Supreme Court
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