By Na Jeong-ju
A teacher in his 20s had sex with a 12-year-old student, but wasn't prosecuted because she protected him, police said Thursday.
The teacher, a 29-year-old single man, started to have sex with the girl months after he began teaching at an elementary school in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, late last year.
Police launched an investigation after their relationship was revealed. However, the girl asked police not to punish him, saying she had sex because she loved him.
The teacher could face charges of sexual assault and rape of a minor. However, police had to drop the case at her request. Their names were not disclosed due to privacy issues.
The school dismissed the teacher for violating its ethics code.
The case is now a hot online issue. Some bloggers said her decision should be respected, while others claim that those who sexually exploit minors should be strictly punished under any circumstances.
Last month, the National Assembly approved a revision to the Criminal Law, under which all sex offenders will be prosecuted regardless of whether there is a complaint from their victims. The previous law stated that sex offenders could only be prosecuted if the victim filed a formal complaint.
In the girl's case, police couldn't bring any charges against the teacher because she didn't want him to be punished.
The revision reflects concerns that less than 10 percent of sex crimes are reported to police. Most victims refuse to submit a complaint because they are afraid of having to confront their assailants and having to testify about their experience in court.