South Korean actress Ok So-ri gets suspended term for adultery

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lacebark pine tree outside the Constitutional Court building.

South Korea's popular actress, Ok So-ri (hangul= 옥소리; 'Ok Bo-gyeong' - 옥보경), age 40, was convicted Wednesday of adultery, for an affair she admitted having with a well-known 38-year-old opera singer. She blamed it on a loveless 11-year marriage.

Goyang, Gyeonggi Province Regional court Judge Cho Min-seok ruled that, "The accused deserves to be blamed. But we took into account her husband's indifference to his wife and she has already gone through immense mental agony since the trial started." Her husband, Park Chul (박철), a radio talk show personality, sought the maximum sentence of two years imprisonment, while the prosecutors were seeking 18 months. She was sentenced to eight months in prison, but avoided jail because the sentence was suspended for two years. The Court imposed upon her lover a six-month suspended term.

In September 2008, a lower court had declared both partners jointly responsible for their divorce, and awarded custody of their nine-year-old daughter to Mr Park. Ok had been trying to overturn a 1953 law that criminalizes extramarital affairs and can send a person to jail for up to two years for adultery. Her lawyers alleged in a court petition: "The adultery law ... has degenerated into a means of revenge by the spouse, rather than a means of saving a marriage." For this purpose she brought a case before the Constitutional Court of Korea, which ruled against the actress and in handing the decision said that society would be harmed if it overturned the law and that the "two-year jail term is not excessive when comparing it to responsibility." The Constitutional Court of Korea (헌법재판소 , Heonbeop Jaepanso) is an independent and specialized court, whose primarily role is the reviewing constitutionality under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea.

The Korean Times says that "in the past three years about 1,200 people have been indicted annually for adultery, but very few have been jailed." Minwoo women's rights group leader, Lee Hye-kyung opined that "the law is problematic in that it focuses only on the technical aspects of sexual intercourse and allows the government to intrude on the most private part of adult sexual life."


  Learn more about Constitutional Court of Korea and Adultery on Wikipedia.