South Korean officials have removed the ban imposed on the importation of adult-sized sex dolls. The decision follows years of debates and discussions among various agencies of the country.

According to the Korea Customs Service, adult-shaped dolls will be allowed to pass through customs, but dolls resembling real people such as celebrities, and dolls resembling minors are still banned.

Sex dolls are not illegal in South Korea. Despite that, Customs Services have seized hundreds of them over the years. The Korea Customs Service would cite a provision in the law that forbids the import of goods that "harm the country's beautiful traditions and public morals."

The courts would often rule in favour of importers, directing customs to release the sex dolls. In 2019, the Supreme Court said that sex dolls fall under the same category as pornography, which is legal in South Korea.

After years going to and fro, the customs officials have decided to lift the ban. They said that the decision had been taken after consulting with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and after reviewing the court orders.

Importers will now be able to retrieve their products from government custody. According to a BBC report, the customs officials likely have more than 1,000 sex dolls.

The lifting of the ban may have come as a relief for importers, but women's rights organisations have slammed the decision stating that these dolls allow men to objectify women.

The decision, however, has been welcomed by local businesses. "It's a reasonable decision though it came bit late. "We thought our people's rights to seek happiness and use (sex dolls) in their private lives have been restricted by the state. There are various types of people who use (sex dolls), including those who are sexually alienated or those who need them for artistic purposes," Lee Sang-jin, a former head of a local company, told the BBC.

In 2019, nearly a quarter of a million people in South Korea signed a petition calling for a ban on importing life-size sex dolls.

The unidentified author of the petition said that sex dolls could lead to an increase in sex crimes. He added that the customisable features could be used to make copies of real people.

A Japanese child sex doll
Representative image