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Korea’s justice ministry considers relaxing restrictions on cousin marriages

Image Credits: Sandy Millar on Unsplash

The Ministry of Justice has yet to decide on whether to loosen up the rules on marriages between relatives from third cousins to just cousins.

They said they’re thinking about it carefully based on research from experts, including a basic survey on marriages between relatives in different countries.

In Korea, marriages between third cousins or people more closely related are not allowed.

And if those marriages happen anyway, they can be declared legally invalid.

On 27 October 2022, the Korean Constitutional Court ruled that banning marriages between third cousins or closer is constitutional.

However, they said invalidating existing marriages in that same situation, as it says in part of their Civil Law, was unconstitutional.

The court decided that making those kinds of marriages invalid violates freedom of marriage.

The court’s decision brought up questions about how far the prohibitions on marriage should go within families and the right to cancel those kinds of marriages.

After the ruling, the court set a deadline to change the law.

For the change, the government looked into related cases to rethink how far prohibited marriage between relatives should go.

The research included a paper from a professor at Sungkyunkwan University Law School suggesting reducing the prohibited scope of marriages between relatives from third cousins to just cousins.

The professor argued that family ties become significantly less between relatives outside the range of cousins.

However, the argument caused controversy, with traditionalists especially upset.

Confucian institutions and organizations stated that considering such a change is an act of destroying the family.

They also demanded that the Justice Ministry stop that kind of research.

“We will make an amendment considering the change in time and national sentiment based on thorough investigation and discussion processed by the Family Litigation Act Revision Committee,” the Justice Ministry noted.

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Korea
South Korea
Justice
Marriage
Law
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