by by Beatrice Igne-Bianchi


Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court in South Korea upheld a 55-year-old adultery law that can send cheating husbands and wives to prison for up to two years if convicted of having an extramarital affair. The law's constitutionality has been contested recently in the public sphere since a popular South Korean movie star, Ok So-ri, is facing jail time on adultery charges in a scandal almost trashy enough for American tabloids involving her television personality husband Park Chul, his opera singer friend and an Italian chef.

The court needed at least six of the nine judges to vouch for its abolishment, but they were one judge short--with five asking for annulment or revision and four continuing to support the law. Although few guilty spouses find themselves behind bars, supporters of the law believe it keeps families together and promotes monogamous relations. However, many critics believe the law is outdated and that it invades one's personal privacy, according to the International Herald Tribune. The adultery law was established in 1953 to protect women from ending up broke and alone if they choose to leave their cheating husbands.

While women's rights groups once rallied in support of the law when it kept husbands in check, the tables have turned on traditional gender roles. Since South Korean women have become increasingly more financially and socially independent in recent years, husbands have started pressing legal charges on their disloyal wives.

"It is inappropriate to make ethically questionable conduct the subject of criminal punishment," Judge Kim Jong-dae said in a dissenting opinion as reported by Jack Kim of the Associated Press. "The intent of the law's framers to protect women is also no longer effective," he said.

After the national exposure of the famous couple's messy divorce proceedings, no ties between Ok So-ri and the Italian chef were found. However, the actress tearfully confessed to an extramarital affair with her husband's opera singer friend, blaming Park Chul's inadequacy as a husband and their loveless marriage. As reported by the AP, Ok So-ri's petition claims that the adultery law does not act as a way of saving a marriage, but rather is utilized in vengeful ways by spouses. Her case had been postponed up until Thursday's ruling.

While Americans seem far more forgiving when it comes to celebrity cheating scandals--from Madonna to Bill Clinton--in South Korea, Ok So-ri's tearful confession and supposedly criminal behavior could not only put her behind bars, but also signal the end of her career.

While the gay marriage controversy rages on in the United States, Japan seems to have taken the matrimonial discussion in quite a different direction. According to, Taichi Takashita, a male citizen of Japan, recently created an online petition to legalize marriage between humans and cartoon characters. He hopes to collect one million signatures and then present the petition to the Japanese government.
This act is not just the idiosyncrasy of one man. In one week, the petition has already garnered 1,000 signatures. Enthusiastic defenders of the petition assure that the fictional characters, despite their two-dimensional lack of depth, are capable of a deeply emotional relationship. One such individual wrote, "For a long time I have only been able to fall in love with two-dimensional people and currently I have someone I really love. Even if she is fictional, it is still loving someone. I would like to have legal approval for this system at any cost." The petition would perhaps give the love between human and cartoon a ground in reality, thus removing one more layer of fiction from the fantasy of people disillusioned with reality.
Along with the petition, Takashita wrote that he is "no longer interested in three dimensions" and asked "at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorize marriage with a two-dimensional character?"
Comic books and cartoon characters have been extremely popular in Japanese culture for a long time. The widespread enthusiasm for these characters has sometimes elevated them to pop-star status. Even Taro Aso, Japan's Prime Minister, reportedly complained to the Daily Telegraph that his new job left little time for his love of comics.
Regardless of the petition's support, it still has a long trek ahead of it. The only form of marriage currently legal in Japan is between a human man and a human woman. The long-awaited right of marriage for cartoons may still be far off, and certainly an even longer wait is in store for the rights of one-dimensional lines and zero-dimensional points.
But who knows how this revolutionary idea will turn out? And before anyone else says anything, I totally have dibs on Belle from Beauty and the Beast.


It seems like the phrase "National Pastime" was invented solely to describe America's alleged obsession with baseball. However, after last week's World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the victorious Philadelphia Phillies, our nation's love affair with its most mythologized sport may be ending.
Television ratings reveal just how unpopular baseball has become. According to the AC Nielsen Company, the World Series averaged an 8.4 rating, its lowest ever, which corresponded to a 14 share. In other words, only 14 percent of the people watching television during the Series chose to watch baseball over other options like "Dancing with the Stars" which scored a 12 rating, the highest that week.
Some explanations blame the inclement weather, which caused game delays and turned the final game into a three-day ordeal. Still, weather cannot explain a three year trend that saw a 10.1 rating in 2006 and an only slightly better 10.4 last year before this year's abysmal showing.
During the Depression, Americans habitually turned to baseball as a diversion. Babe Ruth's home run heroics and Lou Gerhig's seeming invincibility made the Yankees a force, but it was the Philadelphia Athletics, with four future Hall of Famers, that dominated the Depression era and have been called the best team in baseball history by Sports Illustrated. It was a golden age for baseball. Now another team from Philadelphia is winning and a new financial crisis threatens to bring America to its knees.
With steroids tainting the game's record setters and cable television offering viewers more and more options, baseball is no longer the country's primary diversion. To fix what many view as a national landmark, sportswriters have proposed moving the World Series permanently to warmer locations or ending the season before it gets cold. It remains to be seen whether raising the temperature can revive the now frosty relationship between America and its formerly favorite pastime.