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[Opinion] Adultery

Posted September. 11, 2007 03:11,   


Have you ever been in a police detention center? Believe it or not, the most common charge for detainees there is adultery. Shocked by the fact, a new reporter wrote an article on each of the adultery cases. But when the newspaper did not run the article, he categorized the cases and wrote a special article titled, “Adultery in Korean Society.” His senior reporters scolded him: “Do you want to make our newspaper a third-rate magazine?” The novice reporter’s obsession with adultery stopped there.

In most human societies, mothers and fathers cooperate in nurturing their children. Divorced fathers share the burden of child rearing. However, other mammals or insects, if possible, would say, “Human intuition is funny because fathers also have the responsibility of childrearing.” Almost all males of the animal kingdom leave the relationships with their partners immediately after finishing mating and search for other partners.

In such a promiscuous situation, adultery can’t be constituted. Betrayal is a problem only when one has a fixed mate. Therefore, one can also say that animals, which take issue with adultery, are sexually the chastest species. Monogamous animals, including humans, gibbons, and redstarts, attempt at adultery whenever there’s a chance. Biologists interpret this as, “There is competition and cheating even among fixed male-female partners to spread their own genes more. The result of such mating strategy is adultery and jealousy and surveillance as a defense mechanism against adultery.”

As a judge filed a petition on the unconstitutionality of criminalization of adultery, controversy over whether to continue to criminalize adultery is rising again. The reason the judge filed the petition is: “The criminalization of adultery infringes on the right to make a sexual decision and a state’s right to punishment should not expand to one’s bed.” As an increasing number of wives are charged with adultery, there is dwindling support for maintaining the adultery charge among the feminist community. To be sure, even if the adultery charge is scrapped and it becomes free from criminal punishment, there are still moral and civil responsibilities.

Heo Seung-ho, Editorial Writer, tigera@donga.com