The Korea Military Academy, once touted as the birthplace of the country's elite warriors, is losing public trust under growing criticism for a recent series of shameful cases of sexual misconduct.
The Army said on Sunday that the military prosecution was investigating a senior cadet for allegedly having sex with a middle school girl and stealing her mobile phone in Seoul last month.
The cadet, 22, met the 16-year-old girl through an online chat service and purportedly had sex with her on July 13. After finding her phone was stolen, the girl immediately filed a complaint with the police, which apprehended and sent him to the military authorities on Aug. 22.
The unprecedented case of apparent sex trade once again eroded public confidence in the school, which was already defamed by cases of slackened discipline and sexual misconduct this month and in May, respectively.
School chief Maj. Gen. Koh Sung-kyun is to announce on Monday a package of measures on Monday to reform the KMA to strengthen cadet discipline and shore up public trust. The Army has run a special task force to revamp the academy since May.
Following the latest case, the KMA cut short cadets' summer break and decided to replace 20 discipline-related officials.
Earlier this month, army cadets returned to the spotlight with news reports that some of them left their designated hotels without notification and drank alcohol or went to a traditional massage parlour while in Thailand for a volunteer mission.
On Monday, the KMA is to convene a disciplinary council, which is expected to mete out harsh punishments for them in line with growing public frustration.
The most shocking case in recent years came in May when an intoxicated senior cadet was accused of sexually assaulting a female cadet during a school festival. The cadet was expelled right after the case was reported.
Public concerns largely centre on the fact that the cadets are the future of the South Korean military, which is still struggling to fend off daunting military threats from a provocative North Korea.