SEOUL - The global adultery hook-up site Ashley Madison yesterday dubbed further efforts to ban it from South Korea as "futile", as customers greeted its return to the country with enthusiasm.
Ashley Madison is "no different than many other communication platforms, and to ban us will be a futile attempt if the purpose is to ban infidelity", its vice-president Paul Keable told journalists in Seoul. " We are no different than Samsung, we're no different than Google and we're no different from Facebook. If you ban us, you have to ban all those companies' sites," he added.
Citing a 1953 statute that criminalises adultery, the Korea Communications Standards Commission blocked access to the site in April last year, only weeks after it went online in South Korea. It had garnered 50,000 subscribers and US$300,000 (S$409,000) of revenue two weeks after its inauguration.
But in February, South Korea's Constitutional Court struck down the statute, which had criminalised adultery in an attempt to protect traditional family values. A state watchdog last month permitted access to the South Korean site of Canada-based Ashley Madison, whose slogan is: "Life is short. Have an affair."
In the two weeks since the ban was lifted, more than 100,000 new members in South Korea have signed up, said the firm's international affairs director Christoph Kraemer at the press conference.
By the end of this week, the company is expected to have made US$1 million in revenue, he added.
Singapore banned the site in November 2013. Philippine officials have said they will seek to ban it. Last month, a group of 12 South
Korean lawmakers presented a parliamentary Bill proposing to close down such sites.
But Ashley Madison was bullish about its future in the country.
"We're looking at a membership in South Korea of 1.6 million members by 2016," Mr Kraemer said.