This week we’re watching documentary, Love Child. A tragic true-life story of a couple who can’t distinguish between reality and virtual reality ultimately allowing their child to die of starvation. Love Child explores the disease of internet addiction as the world sees the first ever tried case unfold.
The couple who met on online game, Prius, were trialed for involuntary manslaughter in 2010. The term ‘internet addiction’ was heard for the very first time in the court as the defense pleaded mental illness for both offenders. The couple neglected their young infant child for several hours after the child was sleeping to go to an internet café and play Prius. The MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) was set in a virtual reality where the player controlled an avatar through quests. A particular quest involved the “adoption” of a young fairy child that was nurtured by the player’s interactions. The game ultimately consumed their lives and led to the death of their young child.
The documentary begins with the confession between the father and a detective as the death of his child is reported. Initially, the documentary feels very focused on the parental neglect but as it develops, it puts emphasis on South Korea as an internet superpower arriving late to the online party but being crowned world leader in connectivity. Of course the aim of the documentary is to tell the story of a couple who lived so deeply involved with an online game that they left their child to starve. The media speculation at the time headlined the case as ‘Couple Neglect Baby To Look After Virtual Child’ or to that effect at least. What the documentary does is address the extenuating circumstances that led to the tragedy. The couple were unemployed and used the game to sell virtual money for real money and took advantage of the internet café’s subscription scheme to save money by playing for longer.
The rise of the popularity of internet cafes with the introduction of the fastest internet speed in the world is attracting many young people to start online gaming. The documentary focuses on the dangers of internet gaming alongside the cultural and social benefits surrounding internet cafes. Essentially, Love Child is a documentary about the tragic accident of an infant death but is such an informative film about the technology surge of a previously internet silent nation.