K-law Guru aims to provide general introductory information on Korean law. Please do not rely on any information from this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider. Otherwise, enjoy!
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Mr. Heo and his co-workers are having a night out. They go to a local karaoke bar which turns out to be very lively that night. As one lady is about to finish her song, Mr. Heo sneaks up from behind and grabs her breasts by reaching inside her shirt. The lady is appalled. What crime, if any, has Mr. Heo committed? Assume this is taking place in Korea.
The Crime of “Indecent Act by Compulsion”
According to Article 298 of the Criminal Act (형법), the punishment for “Indecent Act by Compulsion” (강제추행) is imprisonment for not more than ten years or a fine not exceeding fifteen million won. An attempt to commit this crime is also punishable (Article 300). “Habitual offenders” may face more severe punishment (Article 305-2). In order to qualify as “Indecent Act by Compulsion”:
1) A person has to commit an indecent act on another person
2) Through violence or intimidation
3) With the intent to commit “Indecent Act by Compulsion.”
In a megacity like Seoul where most people live in close proximity to one another, it might be useful to know what exactly constitutes a so-called “break-in.”
“Intrusion upon Habitation” (주거침입) – as it’s called in the Criminal Act (형법) – is the crime of “unlawfully” entering:
1) The dwelling of another person, or
2) A structure, ship or aircraft maintained by another person, or
3) A room exclusively being occupied by another person.
The crime of “Adultery” (간통, 상간) is one of the most controversial crimes in Korea. Yet, not many people living in Korea have a full grasp of the much talked-about crime.
According to Article 241 of the Criminal Act (형법), a married person who has sexual intercourse with someone other than his or her spouse will be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years. If his or her partner was aware of the person’s marital status, the partner will also be punished. Hypothetically, if golfer Tiger Woods – while on a visit to Korea – had had sex with someone other than his then-wife, both Mr. Woods and his partner would have been committing adultery under Korean law (assuming, of course, Mr. Woods’s partner knew that he was married). According to Article 2 of the Criminal Act, the Act applies to all nationals and aliens who commit crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea.
What makes the crime of “Adultery” rather tricky is the criminal complaint (고소) requirement. To indict a person for “Adultery,” the victimized spouse must first file a criminal complaint with the authorities.