An internet-obsessed Korean couple allegedly allowed their infant daughter to starve to death while they cared for their virtual child, police said on Friday.
March 5, 2010
Kim Yoo-chul, 41, and his partner Choi Mi-sun, 25, fed their three-month-old baby only on visits home between 12-hour sessions at a neighbourhood internet cafe, where they were raising an avatar daughter in a Second-Life-style game called Prius online, police said.
Leaving their real daughter at their home in a suburb of Seoul to fend for herself, the pair, who were unemployed, spent hours role-playing in the virtual reality game, which allows users to choose a career and friends, granting them offspring as a reward for passing a certain level.
The pair became obsessed with nurturing their virtual daughter, called Anima, but neglected their real daughter, who was not named.
Eventually, the couple returned home after one 12-hour session in September to find the child dead and called police. The pair were arrested on Friday after an autopsy showed that the baby died from prolonged malnutrition.
“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,” Chung Jin-won, a police officer in Suwon, the Seoul suburb, told the Yonhap news agency.
“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.”