South Korean gamer charged over son's death

CCTV footage of Chung in an elevator looking in the mirror while carrying a bag said to contain his son's body. -- PHOTO: DAEGU DONGBU POLICE STATION
CCTV footage of Chung in an elevator looking in the mirror while carrying a bag said to contain his son's body. -- PHOTO: DAEGU DONGBU POLICE STATION

Young gaming addict said to have neglected child, letting him starve to death

SEOUL - The young father would spend days playing online games at Internet cafes, leaving his infant son at home. His gaming came to a halt when South Korean police yesterday said they had charged the 22-year-old with murder for allegedly neglecting his son and allowing him to starve to death.

The gamer, surnamed Chung, was arrested on Monday after the badly decomposed body of the two-year-old was found in a trash bag near the south-eastern city of Daegu, city police said. The case has received extensive media coverage in South Korea, where the ruling conservative party is pushing a Bill that would classify online gaming as potentially addictive as drugs, gambling and alcohol.

TV stations aired CCTV footage of Chung in his apartment elevator, 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 echo a notorious 2010 case that shocked the country when a couple allowed their three-month-old baby to starve to death while they played video games.

In late February, Chung's wife started working in a factory far from the city, leaving her unemployed husband to care for their child.

But he spent most of his time in Internet cafes, returning home every two or three days to feed the child.

Police said Chung found the boy dead on March 7 and left the body at home for more than a month, before finally dumping it in a garden nearby. When his wife asked where their son was, he said the child was at a babysitter's.

He initially reported the baby missing, police said, but later confessed to disposing of the body.

A Daegu police detective working on the case had earlier said Chung would likely be charged with homicide and abandoning a body.

Online game addiction is seen as a serious problem in South Korea - one of the world's most wired nations with a thriving gaming industry.

A woman was arrested in 2012 after giving birth in the toilet of an Internet cafe where she had been playing for days, and abandoning the newborn.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE