The study was jointly compiled by Lina Korea -- the Korean unit of U.S. insurance giant CIGNA -- and a local sexologist clinic, and surveyed some 1,100 Koreans aged 20 or older.
The study found that 50.8 percent of the surveyed men, and 9.3 percent of the surveyed women, have cheated on their legal spouses at least once.
At the same time, 53.7 percent of the men in their 50s said they’ve cheated on their wives. Among surveyed women in their 50s, 9.6 percent said they’ve had affairs while married. They on average had relationships with 4.3 partners.
The study also revealed that men and women have different views on whether or not paying for sex is cheating.
While 40.5 percent of the surveyed men said they don’t consider buying sex as an act of infidelity, only 15.1 percent of the women thought the same.
Notably, 43.3 percent of the respondents that did not consider paying for sex as cheating had extramarital affairs at least once.
However, 20.9 percent of those who considered buying sex as cheating -- in the same way as having an affair -- still pursued extramarital relationships.
Income level, on top of gender, also had an impact on his or her likelihood of cheating.
Among those whose household income is 5 million won ($4,501) or more, 34.1 percent of them have cheated on their spouses, while 25.4 percent of those whose household income is 3.5 million won or less have engaged in extramarital relationships.
In terms of occupation, the highest proportion of those who have cheated, 40.6 percent, were running their own businesses. The second largest group, accounting for 39.3 percent, were office workers, followed by physical laborers who accounted for 33.8 percent.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court legalized adultery last year, abolishing a 60-year-old law that made extramarital affairs illegal and punishable with a prison term. Prostitution still remains illegal.
Since 2004, the year South Korea passed its antiprostitution law, both buying and selling sex is considered a criminal activity and punishable with a maximum of one year behind bars.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)