A 17-year-old cosplay fan allegedly persuaded a 15-year-old girl to run away from home to “build their own fantasy kingdom,” before Taipei City Police were able to lure the pair out from hiding and return the girl to her worried family.
The girl, surnamed Lee (李), had been grounded earlier this month by her mother after getting into a fight, the police said. After she complained about the punishment online, the 17-year-old, surnamed Chang (張), who used the Internet pseudonym “Pai Lin,” apparently convinced her to run away with him.
Lee’s mother suspected her daughter had been abducted and called the police to report her missing on the night of April 8.
The mother said that on April 7, Lee wrote on Facebook that “it should be time ... to go all out.”
Chang replied, cautioning Lee not to disclose too much information or “a war would be inevitable,” the mother added.
Lee’s mother said that her daughter was obsessed with raito noberu — a genre of graphic novels in Japan that uses manga-like illustrations — and often dressed as the characters from the books.
Police said that Chang was part of a group on Facebook called Kagamine Kingdom, which members describe as an “independent kingdom.”
Following attempts to establish contact with Chang over the Internet, Chang at first said that Lee was “safely at home,” but changed his tone after learning that her mother had reported the case to the police.
“I will not respond to anything, do not even try to get any information from me,” Chang wrote, adding that Lee was a “princess” and “a part” of the Kagamine Kingdom.
With the help of other netizens, the police managed to find the two on April 13, but when they tried to take Lee home, she screamed that she did not want to leave Chang.
Lee’s friends and family said they were worried because it seemed she had been brainwashed by Chang, adding that the amount of trust Lee had in Chang after only being together for five days was abnormal.
The police charged Chang with taking Lee against her will through scam or fraudulent claims and violating the Statute Regulating Firearms, Ammunition, Knives and other Deadly Weapons (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例) because they found a short blade traditionally carried by ninjas on Chang.
The police referred him to a juvenile court, which placed Chang under his parents’ care.
Peiling Guansi Hospital director and psychiatrist Lee Kuang-hui (李光輝) said many teenagers identify with fictional characters because they are dissatisfied with reality.
Through their identification with and dressing up as a fictional character, teenagers feel satisfaction in having their “character” affirmed, Lee Kuang-hui said.
If a person is found to be caught up in an imagined world, it is best to find what caused the person to want to avoid reality and try to give them affirmation in that particular area, he said, adding that such action could help guide the victim from the imagined world back to reality.