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South Korea Decriminalizes Cheating, Shares Of Contraceptive Companies Rise

Park Han-chul (center) president of South Korea's Constitutional Court, sits with other judges prior to the ruling on the country's adultery law Thursday in Seoul.

Extramarital sex is no longer a crime in South Korea, giving shares of contraceptive companies a boost.

On Thursday, South Korea's Constitutional Court struck down a decades-old law that made adultery a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn tell our Newscast unit that "roughly 100,000 people have been convicted of adultery since the law was passed in 1953, but conviction rates have recently fallen to below 1 percent."

Still, The Guardian reports there is "a deep vein of traditionalism" in the country. The adultery law, the newspaper says, was passed with the stated purpose of protecting women at a time when the country was largely dependent on agriculture and women had few property rights. But changes in the economy and sexual mores made the law feel obsolete to many South Koreans.

Last year, South Korea blocked a Korean version of the extramarital-hookup site Ashley Madison. Earlier Thursday, Fusion interviewed Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman, who says he is interested in returning to the country.

Two of the court's nine judges involved in the Thursday ruling voted to uphold the law, saying decriminalization would encourage affairs and debauchery.

The New York Times reports that "more than 5,000 people who have been indicted on adultery charges since that 2008 ruling can now seek a new trial or, if they have not been convicted, demand that the charges be dropped."

Share prices for leading condom brand Unidus were up nearly 15 percent, the daily limit on the country's Kosdaq market. And shares of Hyundai Pharmaceutical, which makes morning-after birth control pills and pregnancy tests, rose 9.7 percent.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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