South Korea lifts ban on Ashley Madison website after striking down adultery law

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea on Tuesday lifted a ban on the Korean version of the global adultery hook-up site Ashley Madison following a landmark court decision to strike down a controversial adultery law.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), a state watchdog, said it has allowed access to the Korean site of the Canada-based company, which uses the slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair".

"A decision was made today to allow access to the site, because the commission has no legal grounds to restrict it," a KCSC spokeswoman told AFP.

The commission blocked access to the site in April last year, only weeks after it went online in South Korea and garnered tens of thousands of subscribers, citing a 1953 statute that criminalises adultery.

The law, which had made South Korea one of the few non-Muslim countries to regard marital infidelity as a criminal act, was aimed at protecting traditional family values.

But South Korea's Constitutional Court last month struck down the statute, which for more than 60 years had seen adulterers jailed for up to two years.

"Our move was in line with the court's decision, but the commission will keep monitoring Ashley Madison's operation to see if it violates a law prohibiting sex trafficking," the spokeswoman said.

Launched in 2001, the website operates in more than 20 countries worldwide.