news graphics 2007  651428a Couple Let Their Baby Starve To Death While Nurturing A Virtual ChildThis is a very sad story.  A South Korean couple have been arrested for starving their baby to death. The couple allegedly neglected their three-month-old daughter, who was born premature.

Once a day, between 12-hour stretches at a neighborhood Internet cafe, they fed their baby.  Instead of nurturing their own daughter, they became obsessed with raising a virtual child in the popular role-playing game called Prius Online. The couple were arrested in Suwon, a suburb of Seoul, 5 months after reporting the death of their baby.  The baby’s autopsy showed that she’d died due to a long period of malnutrition.

Chung Jin-won, a police officer, said, “The couple seemed to have lost their will to live a normal life, because they didn’t have jobs and gave birth to a premature baby. They indulged themselves in the online game of raising a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby.”

Kwak Dae-kyung, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, told the Yonhap news agency that the couple lost track of reality.

“Online game addiction can blur the line between reality and the virtual world. It seems that taking care of their on-line game character erased any sense of guilt they may have had for neglecting their daughter.”

The professor went on to urge the government to create measures to encourage families and neighbors to contact local authorities or hospitals if people close to them show symptoms of online addiction.

This is the dirty underbelly of South Korea’s fast and cheap Internet connections.  Over the last ten years, there have been many stories of Internet addiction and compulsive gaming leading to serious consequences and even death. In 2007, South Korea established an Internet addiction camp to help people overcome their addiction to the Internet.

For more insight, here is a link to a video from a PBS’ documentary on FRONTLINE’s Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual FrontierOne Game Too Many (video).

Source:  Gizmodo – Busy Raising Virtual – Busy Raising Virtual Baby, Couple Lets Their Real Baby Starve