A 62-year-old law that criminalised extramarital affairs was abolished in South Korea on Thursday, triggering a surge in the stock price of a condom maker.

"The law is unconstitutional as it infringes people’s right to make their own decisions on sex and secrecy and freedom of their private life, violating the principle banning excessive enforcement," said Seo Ki-seok, a constitutional court judge. Seven of the nine-judge panel deemed the law to be unconstitutional.

After the ruling, shares in Unidus Corporation, which makes latex products, including condoms, soared by 15 per cent. Shares in Hyundai Pharmaceutical, a maker of morning-after birth control pills and pregnancy tests, ended up 9.7 per cent higher after the court decision, recovering earlier losses.

In 2008, the court had upheld the law, citing South Korean society’s legal perception that adultery damages social order. Several thousand spouses file criminal adultery complaints each year. Prosecutors say no one was put behind bars last year, despite 892 indictments on adultery charges.

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