As of February 2015, South Korea’s Constitutional Court abolished adultery law, and thus adultery is no longer a crime under Korean criminal law. However, it is still considered as “illegal” under Korean family law and results in compensation for damages under Korean civil law. So, engaging in any kind of sexual relationship out of marriage is still a cause for divorce and also a reason to pay alimony. Also, the spouse can request alimony to not only his/her married partner, but also to the adulterer (the party outside of marriage). However, in reality, it isn’t easy to receive a sufficient amount of alimony from the adulterer. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1. The amount of alimony that the court acknowledges is fairly small. Considering how much emotional torment an affair causes during a marriage, the amount of alimony that is usually recognized by the court in divorce cases due to an affair is relatively small. Alimony (or consolation money) is a kind of compensation that a person can ask their spouse to pay for providing the reason for breaking up their marriage. It is a legal device to make up for the damages suffered by the victims of not only infidelity, but violence, threatening, and other unlawful actions committed by violent or unfaithful spouses during an unhappy marriage. Despite the definite need for alimony in cases of an affair leading to a messy divorce, the amount of alimony that goes to the victim of an affair rarely gets higher that 30,000,000 KRW. Depending on how long the marriage lasted, sometimes alimony will only amount to 10,000,000 KRW. As of now, there are many attempts to increase the average amount of alimony recognized by the court. But if you’re thinking about filing a case to request alimony regarding an affair in the near future, please note that the amount you can eventually receive may not be enough to make you think it was worth it. 2. Gathering evidence is not easy Even though adultery is no longer a crime in Korea, in order to receive alimony from an affair, you have to submit evidence to prove that there actually was an affair going on between your spouse and the adulterer. The most common evidence would be phone call records, text messages, kakao talk messages, etc. In the past, after submitting a petition to the court with indication of an affair going on between your spouse and a specific other, it was possible to gather evidence through major mobile communication corporations (SKT, KT, LG) with a motion to the court for order to submit a document. But in 2015, a major mobile company got sued for submitting customer’s private information to the court. After that incident, all major mobile companies have become extra careful when submitting documents containing their customers’ private info. Thus, because gathering evidence is fairly difficult, it will be a good idea to get a confession from your spouse or the adulterer and record it so you can use it as evidence later on. In Korea, it isn’t illegal to record a conversation if you are a person talking within it. So if it’s possible, one of the easiest ways to provide sufficient evidence for an affair case would be to get the guilty lovers to confess and secure a record of it.