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South Korea Overturns Adultery Ban

Park Han-chul, center, president of South Korea's Constitutional Court, sits with other judges before the judgment at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.

A South Korean court has struck down a controversial, decades-old law that bans extra-marital sex.

The Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled by a vote of 7-2 against the adultery ban, which was enacted in 1953.

"Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individual private lives," said presiding justice Park Han-Chul.

More than 5,400 people have been indicted on adultery charges in the past six years, according to official figures, though jail terms were rarely given out under the law.

The adultery ban initially was seen as an attempt to promote gender equality, since married women had few other rights. But the law became increasingly unpopular as South Korean culture rapidly modernized in recent decades.

It is the fifth time since 1990 that the Constitutional Court has tried to overturn the ban. All other attempts failed to secure the six votes needed.

In a dissenting opinion issued Thursday, justice Ahn Chang-Ho said the law helped protect family values, and warned the move would spark a "wave of debauchery."

Following the ruling, shares surged to the daily limit of 15 percent for South Korea's biggest condom maker, Unidus Corp.

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