By Do Je-hae
A married couple was recently apprehended by the police for causing the death of their baby daughter from negligence due to an Internet game addiction. They had been on the run since their baby died from starvation five months ago in their hometown of Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
The 41-year-old father, identified only as Kim, met and married his 25-year-old wife in 2008 through Internet chatting. The couple's daughter was born in June 2009.
They spent from six to 12 hours at a PC room daily, engaging obsessively in games and leaving their baby alone at their home without food or care. The baby was found dead on Sept. 24.
An autopsy by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation determined that the death was mainly caused by a "lengthy period of malnourishment."
At the time of the baby's death, Kim made a report to the police. "When we woke up, we found that the baby had died," he said. But the couple at the time denied charges of negligence.
After the funeral, the couple disappeared, but the policed tracked them down and arrested them on Tuesday.
During an investigation after the arrest, they admitted their role in the baby's death and said that they have shunned PC rooms for the last five months due to a "sense of guilt."
The baby was reportedly in good health for the first three months after birth while she was being cared for by her grandparents. But when the couple moved to Suwon, the infant spent most of the day alone with her parents away at the Internet cafes.
According to police, the baby was said to have cried all day in her nursery from hunger, but no one was around to feed her.
Infants of her age need to be fed ten times per day, but she was only given milk once or twice a day, police said. The police requested an autopsy by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation.
The couple had no stable income and were financially dependent on the wife's parents. The police said that their addiction seems to have been a way of venting their stress and freeing themselves from money and childcare concerns.
The police found that the addicts spent their time at the PC room engaging in a role-playing game where they get to raise a female character. Players can buy clothes and accessories for the girl and keep parenting journals on blogs.
Psychology experts are calling for proper measures to help first-time parents in dealing with the stress from child-rearing.
인터넷 중독 부부 영아 딸 방치해 사망
최근 인터넷 게임 중독 때문에 영아인 딸을 방치해 죽음에 이르게 한 부부가 경찰에 체포됐다.
아빠인 김씨 (41)는 25살의 부인을 2008년 인터넷 채팅을 통해 만나서 결혼했다. 죽음에 이른 딸은 지난해 6월 태어났다.
이 부부는 하루 6-12시간을 PC방에서 보내며 영아인 딸을 홀로 방치했다. 하루 10번 수유 받아야 하는 영아인 아기에게 부모는 한 두 번 밖에 우유를 주지 않았다. 그러나 경찰의 요청으로 아이를 부검한 결과, 아이의 사인은 영양실조로 밝혀졌다.
이들 부부는 처음 혐의를 부인했다. 그러나 아기 장례식 이후 도주했다가 2일 체포됐다. 경찰은 이들 부부가 일정한 수입없이 돈과 육아 문제에 대한 탈출구로 인터넷 중독에 빠지게 되었다고 설명했다.
경찰은 이들 부부가 빠진 인터넷 게임은 바로 여자 아이 캐릭터를 키우는 가상역할 게임이라고 밝혔다. 정신심리학 전문가는 첫 아이를 키우는데 있어서 오는 스트레스를 해결해줄 수 있는 적절한 대책이 필요하다고 촉구했다.