July 12, 2016 08:11
The end of Korea's outdated adultery laws has been an unexpected boon to private detective agencies, who are inundated with requests to investigate people's spouses.
The law was scrapped in February last year, meaning unfaithful husbands or wives no longer have to fear the long arm of the law.
Police estimate that the number of private detective agencies more than doubled from 1,500 before the scrapping of the law.
Suspicious spouses are mostly concerned to accrue evidence that could be of use in their divorce proceedings.
As competition heats up between agencies, more unscrupulous methods of obtaining information are being deployed, including smartphone apps allowing suspicious spouses to eavesdrop on the phone conversations of their husbands or wives.
Installing the app enables phone conversations, text messages and even photos and video files to be checked in real time on another smartphone. The app does not appear on the menu and requires an anti-virus scan to locate.
Another method is to plant a detective in the call center of a TV home shopping channel or online shopping mall or even a mobile service provider to obtain personal information.
Police said unscrupulous gumshoes often send phishing text messages to hack the smartphones of targets or swap black boxes in their cars to track their whereabouts. Some agencies advertise that they employ seasoned former police officers, but police claim that is untrue.
Experts say evidence obtained illegally is usually inadmissible in court or carries little weight as evidence. Attorney Han Seung-mi said, "Lawyers specializing in divorce often focus on division of wealth rather than obtaining sizable alimony. Even if a person spends W5 million on evidence of infidelity they're unlikely to obtain alimony that surpasses that amount (US$1=W1,149)."
Another lawyer said, "Infidelity can be proved quite effectively simply with circumstantial evidence so courts do not ask one spouse to bring a smoking gun."
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