South Korea has lifted a ban on the erotic novel "The 120 Days of Sodom" by the 18th-century French nobleman and writer the Marquis de Sade, just weeks after barring it for "extreme obscenity".
The Korea Publication Ethics Commission, a state review board, accepted an appeal by publishing house Dongsuh Press that the book had significant literary value, senior board official Jang Tag-Hwan told AFP on Monday.
"The commission auditors, after reviewing related documents submitted by the publisher, concluded that the book was written to delve into the dark side of human nature rather than simply trigger sexual or violent excitement," Jang said.
The board last month told the publisher to recall and destroy all copies at stores, calling the book "extremely obscene and cruel", citing acts of sadism, incest, necrophilia and sexual acts involving minors.
The translated version of the book, which details the sexual orgies of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their mostly teenage victims, hit stores in the South in August.
Although the ban has been lifted, the book is still labelled as a "harmful publication for minors" and must be sold in a sealed plastic cover and only to buyers aged 19 or above, Jang said.
In its appeal, Dongsuh Press had condemned the ban as "cultural dictatorship", and noted that the book was widely available in many countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Japan.