South Korea's military announced today it would fight a court ruling preventing it from removing an officer candidate from the elite Army Academy for allegedly having sex with his girlfriend while on leave.
An appeals court ruled yesterday the Academy had abused its authority to discipline cadets by expelling the candidate, ruling that his conduct had not caused any damage to the institution's honour.
But a spokesman for the Army told a news briefing it maintains rules against sexual relations as part of its code of conduct that also bans drinking, smoking and marriage and it intends to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Reports had surfaced in the news alleging a third person had observed the recruit and his girlfriend visiting an apartment and had subsequently informed the Academy.
The Academy is an elite institution that educates officers for a country that has a long history of military men playing an active role in politics. Two of its graduates have gone on to become president.
It has faced criticism that its rules, which date back to 1952 are unrealistic to follow in today's more liberal society. But it says it plans to tighten scrutiny of personal ethics when reviewing candidates for the 310 cadets it will recruit this year.
However, Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok conceded the Academy may have to change the rules to “better reflect the times” if the Supreme Court decides to uphold the lower court ruling that expulsion as a punishment for having sex was excessive.
In 2008, the National Human Rights Commission issued a non-binding recommendation that the Defense Ministry upgrade the code of conduct as some rules may infringe basic human rights.
Additional reporting by Reuters