South Korea military to fight to keep ban on sex by academy cadets

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's military said on Thursday it would fight a court ruling quashing its move to kick an officer candidate out of the elite Army Academy for having sex with his girlfriend while on leave.

An appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the Academy abused its authority to discipline cadets when it expelled a candidate for having sex with his girlfriend while on a weekend leave.

It ruled that his conduct did no harm to the institution's honour.

The Academy 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, a spokesman for the Army told a news briefing.

News reports said a third person had observed the recruit and his girlfriend visiting an apartment and had 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, dating from 1952, are unrealistic in today's liberal society.

But it says it plans to tighten scrutiny of personal ethics when reviewing candidates for 310 cadets it is recruiting this year.

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.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok conceded the Academy may have to change the rules to "better reflect the times" if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling that expulsion for having sex was excessive.

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