South Korean police yesterday said they had arrested a man for apparently allowing his infant son to starve to death while spending days playing online games at Internet cafes.
The case will likely fuel an ongoing debate about the problem of compulsive online gaming in South Korea, where parliament is considering a bill to classify the activity as potentially addictive as drugs, gambling and alcohol.
The 22-year-old man surnamed Chung was arrested on Monday after the badly decomposed body of the two-year-old was found in a trash bag near Daegu, city police said.
The case received extensive media coverage, with TV stations airing CCTV footage of Chung in the elevator of his apartment block, nonchalantly checking his hair in the mirror with one hand while holding a trash bag allegedly containing his dead son in the other.
The details echoed a notorious 2009 case that shocked the country when a couple let their three-month-old baby starve to death while they played a video game on bringing up a virtual child.
In February, Chung’s wife started working in a factory far from the city — leaving her unemployed husband, who police said had a criminal record, to care for their child.
However, he spent most of his time in Internet cafes, visiting home every two or three days to feed the boy.
Police said Chung found the baby dead on March 7 and left the body at home for more than a month, before finally dumping it in a garden 1.6km away.
Police said he initially reported the baby missing, but later confessed to disposing of the body.
Online game addiction is seen as a serious problem in South Korea — one of the world’s most wired nations.
Family groups say the problem has been exacerbated by smartphones, which enjoy a 75 percent penetration rate in South Korea.