Couple arrested for starving real life baby while raising a virtual baby

A South Korean couple was arrested for allegedly letting their prematurely born daughter starve to death. The parents, it appears, were addicted to a popular role-playing game called Prius Online; they spent most of their time in Internet cafes raising a virtual baby they called Anima while neglecting to feed their real life baby.


  1. It seems more likely to me that they might have been purposefully letting the baby starve, not “forgetting” while they fed the virtual baby. Feeding a virtual baby seems to me a fairly good way to estimate just how quickly a real baby would be dying from starvation. That would be less sensational a story, though.

  2. A minimal googling tells me that in the MMO in question an Anima is a companion pet. I’m going to take the guess that they’re creating hyperbole here.

  3. China is well known for fabricating death-by-online-gaming-addiction stories, but I’m surprised to read that South Korea is now trying to scare its citizenry into more productive pasttimes. Any South Korean Ministry of Culture and Information critics out there? Does this sound like their MO or could this story possibly be true?

    1. I would guess this is a legit story. It seems much more likely to me that the Korean media would attempt to bury a story like this, because of the negative image it would create of Korean society (they are very concerned with their “global brand” or whatever these days). There have been a few stories like this in Korea recently, including that of a 24 year old who killed his mother because she was nagging him to quit gaming, and it seems more like an emerging and legitimate social problem than a government scare-tactic. Just in my opinion of course.

  4. I’m no expert but I hear these sort of stories were rampant back in the day. Back when Starcraft was huge and WoW was starting out in Korea. I think I heard about the online-gaming addiction stories in Korea well before they were popular in China.

  5. I would agree that the “scare story propaganda” quotient is relatively high with this story. I could also see it actually happening: a couple is so distraught about the flailing health of their premie baby, that they kind of silently agree to ignore the poor little tyke until the problem goes away (they couldn’t cope– so they ignored).

    Cruel if true, but psychologically explainable.

  6. There have been several cases of parents letting their children starve to death in the U.S. recently, and in none of them were there any video games involved. And these were real cases, investigated by the police and prosecuted in the courts, with the parents going to jail. This Korean story strikes me as being probably untrue, and even if it is true the correlation between the parents’ actions and the video game is meaningless. Like things would have turned out differently if they were rabid chess players.

  7. #4 Anon is right. The CNN reporter has not done his work properly. In the game, the Anima is a companion character that helps your main character. Automatically. You don’t raise it, or do anything for it. As with many MMORPG, you level up your main character instead.

  8. On a related note, guess what happened to me one time while I was playing Space Invaders?

  9. I remember a long time ago my aunt telling me that my Atari Pac-Man was a thing of the devil “es cosa del DIABLO!” she said.
    Thankfully she did not live enough to know about this fucked up couple here.
    That would have been it.
    Par de Pendejos!

  10. Seems like stories like this always come from some far-away, impossible to fact-check land, so we can pat ourselves on the back about how civilized we are compared to those backwards people who are unable to handle the new technology ‘over there’. I don’t buy it.

  11. I claim no special qualification aside from living in South Korea. Similar events have happened here before. I sounds plausible to me.

  12. Another too-short comment. I need to write when I have more than a minute to spare…
    My comment above should be, “It sounds plausible to me.” – sorry ’bout that.

    1. Ditto that. I find it harder to believe the claim that somehow the story originated as part of a conspiratorial government plot.

      Especially since such stories have been coming out of SK for years (though in fairness, certainly every country has similar examples)

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