Sat, Jun 15, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Seoul court tells cheating husband to stay married

AFP, SEOUL

A cheating husband cannot divorce his wife, despite having a years-long affair, a South Korean court ruled yesterday, insisting that only the injured party in a marriage could initiate a legal separation.

Movie director Hong Sang-soo, 58, a Cannes Film Festival regular, filed for divorce in 2016, shortly after his relationship with actress Kim Min-hee became public.

However, Hong’s wife, whom he wed in 1985, refused to play along — leading to a drawn-out legal battle that has lasted for years.

The Seoul Family Court yesterday dismissed Hong’s petition and awarded costs against him.

South Korea remains a conservative society, where until 2015 anyone indulging in extramarital sex risked a two-year prison sentence.

Even after decriminalization, public disapproval of affairs remains strong.

Despite her successes on the silver screen, 37-year-old Kim — who won best actress at the Berlinale in 2017 — has failed to inspire warmth among the South Korean public.

Her portrayal of an out-of-work actress reeling from an affair with a married director in Hong’s 2017 film On the Beach at Night Alone appears to have been too close to real life for moviegoers.

The law against adultery was originally intended to safeguard the rights of women at a time when marriage offered them some of their only legal protections. Most had no independent income and divorce carried enormous social stigma.

Opponents of divorce laws have said that they breach individual freedoms and trap people in unhappy marriages.

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