Promising marriage for sex not a crime in South Korea

Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:21am EST
 
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SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - South Korea's Constitutional Court struck down on Thursday a half-century-old criminal code provision that made it illegal to promise to marry a woman in return for sex.

The court said the code violated women's constitutional right to sexual freedom and the state must refrain from interfering in such personal matters.

The plaintiffs, two men who brought the appeal against criminal convictions, argued that premarital sex should be a personal and moral issue and not subject to prosecution.

The criminal code provides for up to two years in jail or 5 million won ($4,300) in fines for "anyone who engages in illicit intercourse with womenfolk who does not otherwise habitually engage in lewd conduct with the pretence of marrying her."

Some rights groups have said the 56-year-old provision aimed at protecting women is anachronistic and views women as inferior.

The same court upheld a provision in the criminal code last year that made extramarital sex illegal, saying it was not excessive punishment because the society still viewed such conduct as improper.

(Reporting by Jack Kim, editing by Miral Fahmy)