The Criminalization of Adultery (CANCELED)

Gender Equality, Monogamy, and Faithful Marriage in Postwar South Korea
Canceled reason
"The Criminalization of Adultery" has been postponed until further notice.
Apr 12, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
202 Jones



Event Description

Adultery was treated as a crime throughout Korean history until 2015, when the Constitutional Court of South Korea ruled the adultery law unconstitutional. The global trend of decriminalizing adultery began in the twentieth century: Denmark in 1930, Sweden in 1937, Japan in 1947, Germany and Italy in 1969, Malta in 1973, Luxembourg in 1974, France in 1975, Spain in 1978, Portugal in 1982, Greece in 1983, Switzerland in 1990, Argentina in 1995, and Austria in 1996. The movement for decriminalizing adultery was based on the notion that adultery law discriminated against women and violated their human rights. However, in postwar South Korea, adultery law evolved in a different trajectory in which women favored the law and were against deleting it from the books. This talk addresses this puzzle by examining how global and local forces diverged, converged, and crossverged. There was a paradigm shift in sexuality in postwar South Korea by introducing monogamous marriage, gender equality, sexual autonomy, privacy, and one’s pursuit of happiness. This talk examines why the state continued to penalize adultery in postwar South Korea and investigates the shifting notions of sexual norms, sexual morality, and evolving discourses of adultery that impacted marriage, monogamy, and gender relationship.

Jisoo M. Kim is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures at George Washington University. She is Founding Director of the Institute for Korean Studies and Co-Director of the East Asia National Resource Center. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Korean Studies. She specializes in gender, law, sexuality, emotions, and affect in Korean history. She is the author of The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Chosŏn Korea (University of Washington Press, 2016), which was awarded the 2017 James Palais Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. She is also co-editor of The Great East Asian War and the Birth of the Korean Nation by JaHyun Kim Haboush (Columbia University Press, 2016). She is currently working on a book project tentatively entitled (De)criminalization of Adultery: Monogamy, Faithful Marriage, and the law in Korea and an edited book entitled Emotions, Affect, and Narrative in Korean History and Culture. She received her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.

East Asian Studies Program