Published : 2013-08-27 20:02
Updated : 2013-08-27 20:02
The Korea Military Academy has put emphasis on developing a sense of autonomy and responsibility in educating and training its cadets so that they will become good Army officers. Its long-standing practice of letting them take tests without supervisors is intended to make future military commanders realize the value of honor and conscience.
A recent string of shameful incidents involving some cadets, however, have raised concerns that the KMA is failing to achieve this goal. It seems no exaggeration to say that the military academy is in its most serious crisis yet with regard to the character education of its cadets since it introduced the current four-year curriculum in 1952.
A senior cadet has been under investigation for having sex with a 16-year-old girl and then running away with her cellphone in July. Nine other cadets were disciplined Monday for either drinking or visiting a massage parlor while conducting volunteer work in Thailand earlier this month.
These incidents came just months after a drunken senior male cadet sexually assaulted a female colleague during a campus festival in May. The academy’s principal, an Army major general, was dismissed from his post and 11 other officials received disciplinary action for the shocking case, the first of its kind since the KMA began admitting female applicants in 1998. At the time, a task force was formed to work out measures to tighten discipline on cadets.
What is more worrisome is that these efforts to strengthen ethics did nothing to prevent the ensuing misconduct by cadets. This appears to suggest that lax discipline is quite pervasive in the military school.
Some may feel it is too harsh to say so, noting a larger number of cadets are devoting themselves to becoming good officers. But the recent outbreak of misconduct should be taken as a sign that character education for cadets is failing and as a warning against the weakening of the military discipline in the future.
On Monday, the KMA announced a set of measures aimed at tightening discipline and screening out problematic entrants. Cadets, who were previously allowed to drink on a limited basis with approval from their professors, senior officers and parents, will now also be obliged to receive permission from the academy’s principal. All freshmen will be banned from dating and cadets in higher grades will be prohibited from dating other military personnel on campus.
Some critics note the new regulations are out of sync with the more liberal sentiment of young people. It seems certain that the academy has gone too far in deciding to install fingerprint recognition locks and surveillance cameras at dormitories for female cadets, making their male colleagues feel like potential sex offenders.
But tightening the rules may be seen as necessary for creating the discipline needed to live a restrained military life. The academy should have been more cautious in easing the ban on drinking.
Still, it cannot be guaranteed that more restrictive rules will prevent the recurrence of misconduct by cadets. All cadets are required to remind themselves of the value of honor, without which they will never be able to become good officers, and their instructors should lead by example, rather than resorting to rules.