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South Korean Army Academy Fights to Keep Sex Banned for Academy Cadets

FILE - South Korean cadets salute South Korean President Kim Dae-jung during a graduation ceremony of the 58th military academy of South Korea, at the Hwarang drill field in Seoul.
South Korea's military said on Thursday that 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 had abused its authority to discipline cadets in expelling the candidate, and that his conduct did no harm to the institution's honor.

The Academy maintains rules against sexual relations as part of its code of conduct, which also bans drinking, smoking and marriage. The Academy 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, that date back to 1952, are unrealistic in today's liberal society. Instead of backing down, the Academy has said that it plans to tighten scrutiny of personal ethics when reviewing candidates for the 310 cadets it is recruiting this year.

In 2008, the National Human Rights Commission issued a non-binding recommendation that the Defense Ministry update its 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.