South Korea court says no divorce for sexless marriage

Wed Jan 6, 2010 4:12am EST
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SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - South Korean couples cannot end their marriage because one partner has refused to have sex with the other for years, according to a Supreme Court ruling released to local media on Wednesday.

The case was brought by a husband, only identified by his family name Kim, who said his wife has never had sex with him. They were married in 2005, went to live in the United States and later returned to South Korea to live with Kim's parents.

He first filed for divorce in 2007, saying the couple had never consummated the marriage.

The court ruled the couple could probably work out their problem if they really tried.

"Unless the defendant wishes to accept the decision for divorce, it is hard to acknowledge the marriage with the plaintiff has been broken beyond recovery," the court said in a decision made available to media.

The court did allow for divorce in cases where physical ailments prevent sexual relations.

South Korean courts have been trying to slow down the divorce rate in the country for the past few years after the number of divorces had almost doubled in the decade starting in 1995 to post one of the highest rates in Asia.

(Reporting by Christine Kim and Jon Herskovitz)