A computer-addicted couple let their real life baby starve to death while they raised a virtual daughter online, police said today.
The couple spent 12 hours a night at internet cafes while their three-month-old daughter was left home alone at their apartment in Suwon, South Korea. They were arrested today.
Police said they had become hooked on living online and were raising an avatar daughter through their profiles on a Second Life-style game called PRIUS.
The multi-role playing game allows users to choose a job, interact with others in the virtual world and earn an extra avatar to nurture once they reach a certain level.
Father Kim Yoo-chul, 41, and mother Choi Mi-sun, 25, called police when they returned from one overnight, 12-hour session and found their daughter dead.
‘They called in last September to report that they found their daughter dead after coming back home in the morning,’ Detective Chung Jin-Won of the Suwon Seobu Police Station said.
‘They had spent 12 hours, all night at a PC bang (a Korean internet café)’.
Officers became suspicious of how severely dehydrated the child was and have charged the couple with child abuse and neglect.
An autopsy confirmed she died of malnourishment.
Police said the Kims had become so obsessed with the daughter they were raising online that they appeared to have not taken their responsibility to their real daughter seriously.
The couple confessed they had fed the child rotten powdered milk and often spanked her,
Worried about their addiction to the games, Kim’s parents had been taking care of the baby – but, tragically, had returned her to her mother and father just two weeks before she died.
The couple met in 2008 on an internet chat site, it was claimed.
Online games are massively popular in South Korea, with professional gamers becoming celebrities through live televised tournaments.
But critics say the popularity, which also nets huge profits for tech companies, comes at a steep price, with ever more bizarre incidents hitting the headlines.
A 28-year-old man dropped dead recently after playing his favourite game Starcraft for 50 hours non-stop without eating and drinking.
In another incident, a gamer, enraged that an opponent had killed the character he had put so much effort into creating, quickly found out his adversary’s location through a chat built into the game, took a taxi across town and stabbed him.