S-Space College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원) The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law Journal of Korean Law Volume 02 Number 1/2 (2002)
The Crime of Adultery in Korea : Inadequate Means for Maintaining Morality and Protecting Women
- Cho, Kuk
- Issue Date
- BK 21 law
- Journal of Korean Law, Vol.2 No.1, pp. 81-99
- The crime of adultery is a good example of the moralist tradition under Korean criminal law. Moralism aims to serve as a guardian of a social ethos through the use of state authority and severe penal sanctions.
Although the crime of adultery would certainly be considered a morally reprehensible act, the use of criminal law seems neither desirable nor effective as a means to advocate the moral tenet of spousal
fidelity. As such, the crime of adultery should be dealt with in a divorce court setting and not in a criminal court, and adulterers should be handed civil sanctions and moral reprehension, not imprisonment.
Further, the usefulness of penalizing the crime of adultery goes no further than branding the criminal with a “Scarlet Letter,”which operates as a severe intrusion into the privacy of the individuals involved all in the guise of maintaining sexual morality. Such stigmatization fails to actually deter the crime of adultery and only produces counterproductive effects. Such negative effects are evidence that the law against criminal adultery should be placed under stricter constitutional review. Although some feminists propound that adultery should be criminalized in order to protect women's interests, the effect of
criminalizing adultery may have the unintended consequence of acting as a fetter and not as a shield for women rights, especially considering the rapid growth in Korean women’s consciousness of their
fundamental rights to privacy and freedom over sexual decisions.
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