Infant Dies of Neglect as Parents Raise Virtual Child

Image-capture of the PRIUS online home page, the game the Kims were playing while they neglected their daughter.

A South Korean couple identified as the “Kims”, (their first names are protected under law), were arrested on Wednesday for child neglect. Their three month old infant died of malnourishment, according to autopsy reports.

This sad story begins last year. The Kims’ daughter was born in June of 2009 prematurely. The Kims themselves were heavy online gamers. They often spent their time at internet cafes called “PC Bangs“. On the night in question, in September of 2009, the Kims had been out at a PC bang for twelve hours: all night. They came back in the morning to find their three-month daughter dead.

It was likely the autopsy of the infant that called into question the parents culpability; starving to death is no accident. The Kims confessed to police that they had been feeding the infant spoiled powdered milk, and often spanked the crying baby.

In a cruel twist, the couple were actually spending their time raising a virtual daughter in an online game called PRIUS.

Sadly, stories like these only give video game nay-sayers more ammo to use against gaming advocates. According to the Korean Game Industry Agency, roughly half of the Korean population plays online games regularly, reports ABC news. The gaming atmosphere likely very different there than it is here in the United States, where things like video game arcades aren’t as popular or common. What’s more, according to the ABC report, the couple met in 2008 in an internet chat site. Throughout their marriage, both were unemployed, and living with the wife’s parents. The ABC news article delves into what is called “game addiction”. Unfortunately despite the “awareness” that ABC news is trying to evoke, the issue is much more complicated than simple “addiction”. That parents could be addicted to anything enough to neglect their child is an issue in and of itself, nevermind what the parents are addicted to.

There are a lot of questions that this incident raises, especially when one considers the nation and their culture. According to ABC news, the husband was 41 years old, and the wife was 25. How normal is such an age-gap between couples in Korea? Were the individuals raised under traditional social norms? Were they more “Americanized”? Were they even native to Korea? Did the fact that the child was premature effect them, even minutely? Quite simply, we don’t know.

There is very little information to make assumptions with, or even hazard guesses. In the end it is unfortunate that this tragedy happened to involve video-gamer parents.

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Food & Drug Packaging October 1, 2007 | Henry, John I never pay attention to instruction manuals and it drives my wife nuts. Using a manual to dope out how to install a dishwasher or set up a DVD player just feels like cheating to me. (I’m also not good at asking directions when lost. It’s probably a guy thing.) This may be OK for household appliances but not for packaging machinery. Unfortunately, too many equipment manufacturers build great machines and then fail to provide equally great operating, maintenance and set-up manuals. here how to install a dishwasher

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] There are several reasons for this:

* Many packaging machines are customized for each application. Sometimes this means modification of a standard machine. Other times it means a customized machine from the ground up. Customized machines require customized manuals which are time consuming to write. An inverse law of documentation is in play: The more customized the machine is, the harder the manual is to write.

* The manufacturer, and especially the writer, may not understand how the machine will be used in operation. More importantly, they may not match the level and style of the manual to the person who will be using it.

* Some machine builders use engineers to write the manual. Engineers are great at many things; technical writing is not always one of them. Other builders will use in-house or outside technical writers who may not completely understand the machine.

* It’s hard to write a manual before a machine is completed and tested. Once it is completed and tested, the customer usually wants it shipped immediately.

* Then there’s money. Customers often buy machines on the basis of initial price rather than overall cost. When they don’t, builders think they do. Good manuals cost and builders are reluctant to charge for them. web site how to install a dishwasher

Bad manuals cost even more. These costs accrue over the life of the machine in poor set-ups, improper operation and inadequate maintenance. Unfortunately, the machine cost is visible, the lifetime costs are hidden.

All of these problems are compounded in imported machinery by translations. It’s easy, but wrong, to blame machine builders for these problems. Customers share a lot of the blame by not insisting on good manuals (and being willing to pay for them!). Builders must also do their part by showing the customer the value of a good manual.

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute ( publishes an excellent Technical Documentation & Style Guide. Buyers should insist that machine builders use this as a guideline for their manuals.

A final thought: Machine manuals need to be profusely illustrated with pictures, diagrams, drawings and charts. One picture is worth a thousand words.

A good manual, by itself, is not enough. People need to use it. But that’s another column.

John Henry, Certified Packaging Professional (CPP), is renowned as the Changeover Wizard. His company,, specializes in improving line efficiencies for packagers by reducing downtime. Contact John at or 787-550-9650.

Henry, John

About Gabriel Zamora

Gabriel Zamora is a freelance writer and ghost writer, artist, hardcore video gamer, and self-taught cook. He's a native New Yorker and graduate from Hunter College, with a Bachelor's of Arts in writing. He is currently working on two novels.
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  • brad

    Where were the wifes parents while this neglect was taking place? The couple lived with her parents, so at the very least they were aware of the abuse. That being said, shouldn't her parents be held accountable as well?

  • susanabel

    I was just discussing this story that I saw as a headline in a WalMart! I agree that the tragedy is about more than gaming, but you have to admit the seriousness of gaming addiction needs to be addressed. It's extremely damaging to social relationships, from parents and their children, to kids and their peers, to young adults and their friends, to men and women and their spouses.

    What a tragedy for this poor baby and the discussion will be about why this couple shouldn't have been allowed to be parents. I guess the next rationale will be they should have aborted the baby. Let's wake up, people. Let's GROW up.

  • The Benz

    Finally, the parents are addicted to video games for once – now they know how I feel when I play 'em. But malnourishing a infant because they wanna raise a virtual daughter on an MMO that sounds like Toyota's first hybrid? (In the US, Toyota's first hybrid was, weirdly, the Prius,) That is half-wrong!

  • The Benz

    Finally, the parents are addicted to video games for once – now they know how I feel when I play 'em. But malnourishing a infant because they wanna raise a virtual daughter on an MMO that sounds like Toyota's first hybrid? (In the US, Toyota's first hybrid was, weirdly, the Prius,) That is half-wrong!

  • Jstager2002

    People who take online games to these lengths are so incredibly sad. I myself am a mother of 4 girls, and I am an online gamer. My husband and I both play every evening almost. But we have never ever ignored our children to play. Someone should do to them as they did to that poor little girl.

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  • Marshalltabitha24

    this is a terrible tragedy….Blaming this on a video gameis cop-out. I play games every night before i go to be. I live with mysister and she has asixyear old daughter. my sister is a heavy gamer also but nothing comes before my neice. Its just a gameitsalways going t be there but your life isn’t.

  • “That parents could be addicted to anything enough to neglect their child is an issue in and of itself, nevermind what the parents are addicted to.”

    Precisely. It’s far too easy to jump up and start pointing the finger at video games. Surely, if video games were inherently dangerous, we’d be seeing incidents like this all over the world. every single day, until eventually, they no longer hit the headlines because no-one would be shocked or disgusted any more. But because it (thankfully!) doesn’t happen that often, it does hit the headlines, and people are absolutely repulsed and you get the minority screaming about the dangers of video games.

    But it’s really not the point. The point in this case is that a three month old baby starved to death because of neglect. If you can treat your child in that manner, there’s something very wrong with you to begin with, game or no game. The game might be a medium through which instability manifests itself but in my opinion that is all it is. A medium. You don’t see any childrens charities campaigning to have video games banned and that’s because doing so would solve nothing.