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 ... See full summary »

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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. Written by Anonymous

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17 January 2014 (USA)  »

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Somewhat impressionistic for a documentary but surely the first of many about this topic to come
3 August 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the 1990's, South Korea was still trailing behind in the internet/online renaissance that incalculably impacted global communication, so in response to its tardiness, the South Korean government took a huge risk in building and developing infrastructure that would not only improve South Korea's communication with the world but make it one of the world's biggest digital leaders. Its infrastructure, which greatly assisted in broadband, wireless, and wired connectivity propelled it to one of the main digital giants in the twenty-first century, but its prolific use of technology has also made it a nation affected greatly by "internet addiction."

Valerie Veatch's Love Child explores the idea of internet addiction in South Korea by using one of its most public cases as its thesis. In 2010, in the city of Seoul, South Korea, an infant child was found dead from malnutrition directly because of parental neglect. The parents of the child were found to play an RPG game online for anywhere between six and twelve hours a day; a game that was, ironically, centered on raising and nurturing a virtual child that would grow up to bear unthinkable powers. The case was heavily publicized and the idea of whether or not internet addiction could be a practical and rational diagnosis began to concern people globally.

The couple was playing the computer game Prius, which, we learn, has attracted numerous people to its online community thanks to its gorgeous, colorful graphics, heavy-use of individuality through pre-programmed personalities, and entirely customizable avatars. While the in-home computer is still a very big luxury in South Korea, many flock to a local gaming lounge, equipped with dozens of fully-customized computers where people pay by the hour to play the latest online video games. The couple was said to have played up to ten to twelve hours at these lounges for the price of seven, thanks to attractive deals the club often boasts, and that the couple's only source of income seemed to come directly from the solicitation of items and features in the game for people that didn't want to go through the labor of actually earning such things themselves.

Love Child tells a tragic story, but one that was sooner or later going to be told, what with the international rise of the internet and the amount of people who center their lives around it. Veatch's exploration reminds me of the kind of exploration Susan Saladoff gave to Stella Liebeck, the elderly woman who filed a lawsuit against McDonald's after accidentally spilling the restaurant's coffee on herself gave her third degree burns, in her documentary Hot Coffee. The only difference is Saladoff worked to illustrate and correct numerous misconceptions about Liebeck and her case that were perpetuated by people shortchanged or rewriting the case in their own blatantly incorrect way. Veatch's story about the Korean couple is as bad as it sounds, and while the idea of internet addiction is a very plausible explanation, it still doesn't lessen the fact that a child died of starvation in a well-off country because of basic parental neglect.

Veatch occasionally veers off into a more impressionistic style, atypical of most documentaries, becoming more fascinated by video clips of Prius gameplay along with medium-length shots of random, day-to-day occurrences in South Korea (case and point, a child flinging an umbrella around like a sword until it becomes inside out, with the boy's mother helping him while she's talking on her cell phone). This proves distracting from Veatch's core thesis, which, instead of diving into the court case for the South Korean parents, is focusing on other minor instances that almost seem open for some kind of metaphorical interpretation.

Love Child, as a look at internet addiction and the side effects of virtual dependency drawn in broadstrokes and taken in basic context, still works as a documentary, for its key purpose is achieved through the introduction of a specific example that bleeds into a larger, bigger issue, equipped with historical context on another country. Believe me when I say, however, this will not be all we hear about this subject, especially in documentary form.

NOTE: Love Child will air throughout the month of August 2014 on HBO.

Directed by: Valerie Veatch.


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