Looks like the Constitutional Court is going to have to rule on whether the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution violates the Constitution:

In an interesting development, a Seoul court has asked the Constitutional Court to deliberate on the constitutionality of sex trade.

The Seoul court referred the case of a 41-year-old Kim who was charged with violating the special law on sex trade by receiving payment for offering sex services to the Constitutional Court.

While sex trade in itself is illegal and prohibited, the court said, it has to be debated as to whether voluntary engagement of sexual activities for payment is illegal and should be subject to punishment.

The Dong-A Ilbo—which, it should be pointed out, has done some spectacular reporting on this subject in that past—has been all over this ruling.

One of the things the court noted is that concubinage and “local wife contracts” (i.e., women arranging to act as “local wives” for foreigners, typically Japanese) are not punished, while women who sell sex to unspecified individuals are, despite the fact that fundamentally, they are all doing the same thing.

The Dong-A also reported that prostitutes are welcoming the ruling, but women’s groups are not.

Marmot’s Note: As I’ve said before, I simply cannot wrap my head around a law that punishes a woman for selling something that she can give away for free all she likes. That women’s groups are calling for women to be punished for deciding what to do with their own sexuality also reminds me of the criticism made in The Handmaid’s Tale of the war some feminists launched on pornography in the 1980s.

Anyway, as one of the Dong-A pieces notes, the Constitutional Court has held up the law against adultery no fewer than four times, and even the Seoul court seemed to say that completely banning prostitution was OK even if punishing prostitutes as criminals wasn’t. Which means we probably shouldn’t expect the court to rule that banning prostitution constitutes excessive state interference in the private lives of the citizens. It will still be interesting to see how the Constitutional Court handles the equal protection issues, though.