The Korea Military Academy plans to lift a decades-old ban on drinking, smoking and marrying to reflect social change, the Army said Sunday.
The elite military academy has prohibited cadets from drinking, smoking or marrying while attending school to teach discipline since its establishment in 1952.
The comprehensive ban, however, has faced growing challenges after several cases of sexual misconduct took place involving cadets last year, with one male cadet raping a female colleague on campus during a festival.
Army officials seriously questioned the effectiveness of the obsolete rules after a local court last year sided with a senior cadet who was kicked out of school for having sex with his girlfriend off campus, a ruling that spurred public debate.
Keeping with rapid social changes, the proposed rules aim to increase flexibility of students' behavior off-campus while keeping strict discipline on campus.
"The Army is considering improving the current system to apply separate rules on and off campus, taking into consideration the legal regulations, social trend and education purpose," a senior Army official said. "Cadets will still be prohibited from those activities while on campus, on duty or in uniform, but they will be allowed in other occasions."
Under the eased rules, cadets can get engaged under school approval, though they still cannot marry while in school.
If a male cadet's girlfriend or a female cadet gets pregnant and needs to assume parental responsibilities, he or she will be expelled from the academy, which requires all students to live in the dormitory.
While drinking is allowed on campus on limited occasions upon approval, the new rule is considering allowing lower-level officials the authority to decide on drinking matters.
Cadets can date those who reside off campus, though a ban will be in place for all freshmen and cadets in the same unit. Cadets'
relationship with soldiers who are serving their compulsory military service or with military personnel on campus will also be prohibited.
The new rules could bring in a wave of changes to other military branches, as Navy and Air Force officials have paid keen attention to the latest moves to see whether they can follow the Army's suit in easing regulations on cadets.
The Army academy will hold a hearing session on Wednesday open to students and parents to better accommodate their opinions before officially announcing the new regulations. (Yonhap)