Cadet drops out after harassment

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Cadet drops out after harassment

A junior at the Korea Military Academy in Nowon District, northern Seoul, voluntarily dropped out of school last month after she reported she was being sexually harassed by her roommate, a fellow cadet, from March to July, a military official said Tuesday.

There were several cases of sexual harassment reported at the Korea Military Academy and one case in 2013 in which a cadet was arrested for raping a fellow cadet.

This is the first time a female cadet is suspected of sexual harassment. The academy has selected roughly 25 female cadets, or 10 percent of its total quota, from 2000.

According to the military, one cadet allegedly made sexual advances to two of her roommates over a period of four months by hugging them from behind and touching parts of their bodies.

“The victims didn’t take her actions seriously at first,” the military official said, “but asked her to stop once they realized a pattern.”

The academy became aware when one of the victims, who eventually dropped out, visited a campus counselor to request a room change, expressing confusion about her sexuality.

“We checked all the details about the allegations in early October,” the official said. “The victim said she was experiencing difficulties at the academy and notified us of her plan to enter medical college.”

The academy allowed her to leave four days after receiving her dropout form, but the academy’s disciplinary committee failed to organize in time and the suspect received no punishment of any kind.

As the suspect’s father is a general who is close to the minister of national defense, some question whether this played a role in the apparent lapse.

Some cadets also testified that they were pressured not to speak about the case.

Another military official said, “The academy tried to preserve its reputation by dealing with the case quietly, but its decision not to take the case to the disciplinary committee only circulated rumors that the victim left the school because she was bullied.”

As the controversy grows, the judicial office of Army Headquarters will investigate the academy’s administrative procedure to see if it was appropriate.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.yuna1@joongang.co.kr]


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