TIME adultery laws

South Korea Bans ‘Immoral’ Hook-Up Website Ashley Madison

Lee Jae-Won—Reuters A couple walks while holding hands under a bridge in central Seoul

Authorities in Seoul have blocked a global adultery hook-up site, Ashley Madison, calling it an incitement to immorality in a nation where marital infidelity is punishable by jail. The site's owners have called the decision "hopelessly outdated"

The South Korean version of the global hook-up site Ashley Madison has been blocked by the Seoul government, which accuses its operators of inciting adultery in a country where marital infidelity is a criminal offense.

The Canada-based company was launched in South Korea last month. It became an instant hit, reaching close to 50,000 subscribers in the first week, reports Agence France-Presse.

But the Korean Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) said in a statement that the website was blocked in “the light of the legal spirit of relevant laws aimed to protect healthy sexual morals, marriage bonds and family life.”

South Korea is the second country to block the popular website after Singapore. By contrast, the Japanese appear to have enthusiastically embraced its slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Ashley Madison ended up setting a record in Japan after reaching a million users within eight and a half months.

According to South Korea’s adultery laws, a spouse found engaged in marital infidelity is liable to serve a prison sentence of up to two years. However, very few end up serving jail time; most are let off with a suspended sentence. In 2008, only 42 people were given prison sentences — a significant drop from 216 in 2004.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman called the South Korean law “hopelessly outdated.” He maintains that his website simply promotes an activity that is universal and crosses all social and geographical boundaries.


TIME cities

Detroit Cuts Deal With Retired Police and Firefighters

Rebecca Cook—Reuters A protestor holds a sign outside the federal courthouse in support of Detroit city workers

The city going through one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history has agreed to preserve pension benefits for some retired civil servants even as it announces cuts for other employees

Detroit has reached a deal with some retired workers over pension benefits while cutting monthly payments for other former employees in a move that could give a boost to the city’s plan to exit bankruptcy in October, officials said Tuesday.

According to tentative agreements, retired police officers and firefighters will continue to receive their full pensions while those who do not work in public safety will have some of their benefits curtailed. Those cuts include a 4.5 percent decrease and the elimination of cost-of-living payments for general fund pensioners, said Tina Basset, spokesperson for the fund.

The agreement will cover more than 20,000 retired workers in a city going through one of the largest public bankruptcies in U.S. history. Both the retirees, as well as current workers who qualify for a future pension, will be allowed to vote as creditors in the bankruptcy.

Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association attorney Ryan Plecha said preserving the pension benefits was the “crown jewel.”

Bill Nowling, a spokesperson for Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who is overseeing the bankruptcy process, said the deal with retired workers had been possible because of an improved financial performance of the pension funds.

However, both deals depend on the $816 million that Detroit is hoping to raise from foundations, philanthropists and the state of Michigan. Lawmakers are yet to approve Michigan’s $350 million contribution.

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