Love Child (2014) - full transcript

LOVE CHILD is a documentary following of the first tried case of Internet Addiction the world has ever seen. Filmed over two years in Seoul, Korea, the film follows the story of a young couple in South Korea who were immersed in an on line game raising a fairy child and their real life baby died of neglect. The 2010 trial that followed saw the first ever usage of the term 'Internet Addiction' as the young couple's lawyer crafted a mental illness defense. Weaving together footage of the game, interviews and reenactments, LOVE CHILD tells a haunting tale set in a world where virtual is the new reality.

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What are you here for?

I'm here because my baby died.

When and where did the baby die?

Last week at my home.

Okay, what's' your occupation?

I don't have a job.

- What's your baby's name?
- It's Sarang.

Do you know the exact time
when your baby died?

I assume around 5 AM.

Why do you think so?

Because we came home after then.



Where did you go?

- We were at the PC room.
- At the PC room.

You left the 3-month-old baby
alone at home...

played a game all night long
at PC game room...

and came back
at 5 in the morning?

- No, we came back at 7
- AM.

At 7? For how long
did you play the computer game?

Over 10 hours I think.

What caused
your baby's death do you think?

I'm not sure.

She was a premature baby
from the beginning.

It's been 24 years since
I became a police officer.

And 16 years a detective.

I've seen many extreme cases...



but this case in particular
is very meaningful to me.

Well, I...
I also am a father.

I felt sympathy for them.

This is the first such crime
in Korea.

The family hopes people...

will forget
about this tragic event.

So that they
could just live a quiet life.

I'll never forget.

They did not want to notify us
of the baby's death at first.

So they looked up
the funeral process online.

They found out that they had
to call the police...

They called 911
and notified us...

that their child was dead.

When we arrived at the scene,
the baby was in the basement.

The basement was very messy...

and the baby was dead.

It was terrible.

Yes, I was there.
It was a shocking scene.

The baby
was just lying straight.

The baby was lying down
on the blanket.

It was a horrifc scene.

She was covered
with the bed cloth up to her chest.

She seemed to be
extremely underweight...

compared to other babies.

Our team members were
suspicious of the relationship...

between the parent and child.

A typical parent would weep
in this situation...

but they showed no emotion.

None of us believed it at first.

It was unbelievable...

that they left
their child alone at home...

and played online games
for 6-12 hours.

PC ROOM

I've been working here
for years.

People come and go,
some regular...

some drifting through.

I check them in and out
of their computers.

They pay for their time.

I started playing online games
in the 4th grade.

That's when I first
started playing games.

I had played the game...

all the way from then
through high school...

and made friends
with many people in the game.

Like you talked about
the community spirit before...

Koreans like to gather
in one place.

And the place of gathering
became PC game rooms.

PC game rooms
started appearing...

when network games
were first introduced.

It was too expensive to install
high-speed Internet at homes...

so people installed
many computers collectively.

The reason the number
of PC Bangs grew so fast...

is related to the explosion
of online gaming in Korea.

Another cause is the government
policy in the early 1990s...

to aggressively increase...

the number
of Internet connections.

Two officers felt suspicious...

about the extreme thinness
of the baby...

and asked
for an official autopsy.

The cause of death
turned out to be malnutrition.

I was very depressed
when the autopsy result...

proved that she died of hunger.

Letting a baby starve
to death today...

doesn't make sense at all.

After all, we're living
in the 21st century.

It was really sad.

Suwon Seobu Police Station
requested an arrest warrant...

for the 41-year-old Kim
and his wife.

We had to release them
for about 15 days...

while waiting
for the autopsy results...

and they ran away
during that process.

The Kim couple has escaped.

The address on their ID card
was wrong as well.

Then they grew careless...

believing that we finally
quit chasing.

We continued on tracking them...

until I think it was
February 10th, 2010.

They hid themselves in Yangju,
where their parents were living.

The neighborhood
was very isolated...

with only two to three
apartment buildings.

It was so secluded
from other villages...

that you couldn't get there
without GPS.

When we went there...

to arrest the parents...

they already knew who we were.

They did not resist.

They seemed resigned.

They said they had realized...

they could no longer
hide from us.

A young couple was arrested...

for starving their
3-month-old daughter to death.

I hope that she's happy...

forever in heaven...

and I feel sorry as a dad.

I remember they said...

they actually met inside a game.

NEXON
GAME DESIGN HEADQUARTERS

They were playing
the fantasy game Prius.

In role-playing games,
as opposed to strategy games...

you create a character
of your own.

You create an avatar
as you start the game...

choose its personality.

The avatars in Prius
are diverse.

Yes, they're robots,
knights, and wizards...

There are so many.

The biggest reason...

that people
were attracted to this game...

was "Anima", a mini avatar.

If you reach level 10 to 15
you are given a quest...

if you complete the quest,
you are also given an Anima.

Player has reached level 10
and earned the "Anima Quest"...

Animas are given to everyone,
and they are very small.

Those small dudes follow you
all the time.

The personalities of Anima...

changes based
on the interactions...

it has with the player.

This personality can turn into
a defensive type, critical type.

The Anima
is the central key to this game.

The woman's parents
disapproved of the relationship.

Since the man
did not have a regular job...

and their age gap was quite big.

Her parents didn't believe them
when they said...

they were making money
in the game.

Anima has reached level 81
and casts a protection spell!

Anima has reached level 81
and casts a protection spell!

Through many hours
of playing the game...

it's possible to earn
enough virtual money...

to trade for real money.

They sold the virtual money
to those to buy game items...

without investing the time
it takes to earn them.

Some call it 'Gold Farming'
and as far as I could tell...

this was the only way
the couple earned income.

It was illegal
when I was in elementary school.

But the trade became legal
when I was in middle school.

From then, I did legal trades
with strangers online.

Korea's MMORPG games
today enable users to decorate...

their avatars
by charging the game cash...

so called 'cash avatars'.

Last year, Korea exported
around 4.2 billion dollars...

of cultural contents...

and 50% of them were
from the gaming industry.

While global IT transactions
fell 4.6%...

Korea's IT industry
grew 5.3% last year.

This means the upturn
has been for two years now.

The Internet economy
in South Korea...

is worth $7.9 billion.

It makes up
almost 7% of the GDP.

I didn't even know
that she was pregnant.

They were here all the time...

so I never
looked closely at them.

They would come in
after dinner and play all night.

They were so happy
lost in this game together.

I found the mother's
medical records...

stating she'd never been to the
hospital during her pregnancy.

Not until she was about
to come due. Not even once.

She didn't have a vaccination
or receive an examination.

She didn't receive
any prenatal care.

She wasn't being responsible
as a mother.

Both of the parents
were small and skinny...

especially the husband...

and the baby
was born underweight.

They probably thought
it was normal.

I feel very bad...

because she did not know
how to raise a child at all.

She bore a baby...

but was completely ignorant
of why she was crying...

or when to feed her.

The couple had
very limited knowledge...

on how to raise a baby
compared to average parents.

To make matters worse...

the couple was busy playing
online games...

rather than
taking care of their own baby.

Quest 508, Level 91
Sacrifice of Star...

Their family accused them
of spending too much time...

playing games.

This is why the couple...

had to move out
with their child.

Player has earned enough points
to revive Anima!

The couple
didn't realize that the baby...

would starve to death.

Therefore, they had no intent
to murder their baby...

and the child died of neglect.

Government Prosecutors agreed
and charged the defendants...

with involuntary manslaughter...

instead of a full out
murder charge.

The couple confessed the crime
during the first hearing.

There were about 3 hearings.

With their confession in hand...

the second hearing was
an investigation of the charges...

analyzing the reason
and circumstances...

that led to the child's death.

There were strands of hair
inside the bottle...

the hair was mixed
with the rotten milk...

and the bottle was placed
at his bedside.

I think they fed the baby
with the rotten milk.

The photos of the bottle
were used as evidence.

We checked the log in history
at PC Game Room...

every time they came, they
stayed for at least six hours.

They came after the baby
was asleep at night.

The first reason this case
is so unfortunate...

was they actually
were trying to save money.

Instead of paying
at an hourly rate...

they paid for blocks
of time at a discount.

This allowed them to save
some money.

They played games for 10 hours
at the price of 7 hours.

During interrogation
they said...

they had deliberately chosen
that location...

for the special deal.

If she were to wake up...

there was nobody
to take care of the baby.

I think these things prove
that they were...

different from normal people.

CHUNG ANG UNIVERSITY
HOSPITAL

So the next step
was to identify the motivation...

and the reason
behind the couple's behavior.

I am going to show you
several images.

Please look at them
and answer my questions.

What does this look like?

We hired a psychiatrist
so that the arrested couple...

may receive adequate treatment
and counseling.

Anything else you see here?

What is missing here?

A shadow of a person.

This one?

Do you usually spend
your free time playing games?

Then... is there another purpose
for playing games?

Then, you've been
playing games for money...

financial purposes...
extra income.

Have you ever thought...

you were unable
to control yourself?

For some people
who suffer from boredom...

lose vigor, become depressed...

video games
provide the only comfort.

They play games because
they have nothing else to do.

They barely eat
and barely go out.

They become like a hermit.

They don't have
a supportive environment.

But video games
reward the users.

The results
from the diagnosis...

suggest the defendants
have reached the threshold...

for online game addiction.

Because they have been confined
to this virtual world for so long...

they were incapable
of distinguishing...

between the virtual
and the real.

They had become emotionless
because of online game addiction.

There is a passage
in the Korean Law...

which protects the physically
and mentally ill criminals...

by reducing the severity
of their sentences.

For example, if a man commits
a crime under intoxication...

whatever his intention
may have been...

his sentence could be reduced.

There is still controversy
around whether the law...

should include
online addiction...

in the category
of mentally and physically ill.

As I've stated in my case,
since the cause...

of the baby's
accidental death...

is classified
as "Online Addiction"...

under the Korean law,
which mandates protection...

for the mentally ill,
a reduction of sentence time...

for the defendant is reasonable.

Yes, I as far as I'm aware
this is the first case...

where game addiction
caused a fatality.

When I met the patients...

I got a lot of questions...

from a lot of the press
and TV programs.

The question is
always the same...

Is the brain of a patient
with game addiction...

the same to the brain of the
patient with substance addictions?

I say yes or no.

It's obviously a big social issue
that a child dies of hunger...

because her parents
are addicted to a computer game.

The couple said that they quit
playing the online games...

because they felt guilty
at losing their child.

But it was too late, it seems
they will have to go to jail.

She secretly gave birth
to a baby...

in a PC Bang toilet stall,
and suffocated the baby...

with a plastic bag.

The homeless woman
roamed around the streets...

and was addicted to
online gaming.

She started to have contractions
and went to the public restroom...

to give birth to a child.

Yes, it is even worse
than drinking.

You could go to bed
after being drunk...

but games excite your curiosity
since they always...

have new scenarios and stories.

Because excessive game playing
has recently become an issue...

a couple laws were passed.

One is Juvenile Protection Act...

and this act
prohibits juveniles...

under the age of 16
from playing games...

from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.

This is also known
as "Shutdown Law".

As a result, game companies
stopped catering for children...

under 15 years of age,
distorting the market.

Once, our gaming industry...

created authentic
products autonomously.

We must recognize
that the problems...

caused by new media
are solved in increments...

under implicit social agreements...

rather than
government intervention.

A game addiction is a result
of many other factors...

than just the game itself.

Instead of making strict
regulations on gaming...

it is important for all of us
to think more carefully...

about this issue
and to come up with a remedy.

At first, we show
a therapy video for relaxation...

which consists of scenes
of nature, for 10 minutes.

The patient gets to watch
a gaming video...

and then a video that makes him
or her feel aversion.

Relaxing, showing
a gaming video...

and then an aversive video.

This makes the patient...

have a more negative
attitude toward games.

This form of behavioral therapy
is very effective.

The 'avatar' has
a lot of meanings...

The original meaning of avatar is
like him, himself, right?

But in the online world...

the "avatar" is
"a version of me", "but I"...

a very complicated meaning
the "avatar" has.

Our reality never allows us
to be a different person...

but role-playing games
enable us to switch roles.

Through these experiences...

we could understand
each other more.

I think that serious games
are functional...

and meaningful enough
if they enable people...

to gain not only information
and knowledge, but also empathy.

Actually, most of the people here
enjoy playing games.

We usually made a joke
about that.

We wouldn't be able
to understand...

the game addict patients
without playing ourselves.

Therefore we all started
playing games at first.

I personally
enjoy playing games as well...

and I once tried to be addicted
to it on purpose.

Then I could understand
why people gain pleasure.

It made me keep thinking
of the games in my real life.

It's not exactly like I wanted
to play the game...

but the scenes and images...

kept coming across my mind.

Yes, I dreamed
about those games.

Not only that...

I personally wished that
the real world were a game...

not an addiction though.

- I think that's an addiction.
- Is it?

As smartphones were introduced...

time and space
are no longer limited.

You could get access to games...

whenever and wherever
you want...

and it became easier
for you to play games.

You could play games
whenever and wherever.

I think this rise of mobility...

is a natural consequence
of technology.

Gamers use smartphones
as a mobile gaming console.

Now the gaming environment
is expanding.

Why do I need to distinguish
'reality' from virtual reality?

If I'm happy with living a life...

in between the real world
and the virtual world...

Why would I have to draw
a distinction between them?

Playing games
is no longer simple...

but it's becoming more active
and pervasive.

I think that the mixed reality
provides a better environment...

for people to be more active...

The virtual reality
reflects the real life...

and these two realities
become mixed together.

They see as unnecessary...

drawing a distinction between
these two worlds.

Real world and virtual world
become part of the same world.

They seem to be happier
that way...

and we believe
that the mixed world...

brings us comfort,
varieties, and joy.

This cannot
be considered addiction.

We used the term
"game addiction"...

and the court acknowledged
the use of the word.

We were very pleased
that they did so.

The court then decided...

to pass a less severe punishment
to the couple.

This case established
a legal precedent.

It had a tremendous impact
in Korean legal system.

Recently legislators
introduced a controversial bill...

that aims to include
and manage online gaming...

as one of the 'big 4' additions
on top of alcohol...

gambling and drugs.

Why would the government
take such action...

that is so clearly detrimental
to the gaming industry?

This must be addressed
as a medical issue.

This bill is all about treating...

and preventing losses
incurred by game addiction.

If we categorize online games...

as a potentially
addictive activity...

the public perception
of online gaming culture...

would deteriorate.

Addiction inducing activities
such as drinking, gambling...

drugs and online games.

We can't ignore this
when we think of our children.

Is it appropriate...

to include
online game addiction...

among alcohol,
drugs and gambling?

Some people
with high-level education...

might argue that we need
to take a medical approach...

to this case because the parents
were mentally ill.

But in reality, this is
a very complicated situation.

How could you think that...

because these people are
addicted to Internet games...

the priority at this point...

is offering them
treatment at a clinic...

when you see the baby starved
to death right in front of you?

It's a basic responsibility
as a human...

to feed her own baby.

It's not something to be taught.

Humans need food to survive.

Giving birth to a child,
fostering her, giving her milk...

embracing her, and loving her...

are all natural
human inclinations.

She must have suffered so much.

These kids...
Emotions are not supposed...

to be involved in cases...

but it's difficult
because we are also humans.

We would become a machine
if we ignored our feelings.

How ironic it is
that her name is "Love".

The parents promised
that such accident...

wouldn't happen again
to their second child.

The parents are deeply sorry
for their actions...

and are seeking redemption.

They are asking advice
to a lot of people...

and want to successfully
raise a child.

I know that...

They made an official
announcement in court...

and they also promised me
that they will never play games.

I'm glad
they have received treatment...

and especially that they were
able to get a second chance.

I was happy for them
when I heard...

that they were having
a second child.

Whatever they did...

I know
they wanted to be good parents.

I know they have
more love to give.

After the trial,
I asked my doctor...

if I too was an online addict.

He laughed and said...

"How does a fish
know it's in water?"