Internet-mad baby couple sentenced

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Internet-mad baby couple sentenced

The Korean couple who received international media attention after they let their infant daughter starve to death while they spent most of their time in a nearby Internet cafe raising a virtual child were convicted and sentenced yesterday.

But while the husband, 41, received a two-year jail sentence, a two-year prison term for his common-law wife, 25, was suspended as she is due to give birth to their second child in three months. She will escape going to jail if she is not convicted for another crime within the next three years.

The Suwon District Court handed down the sentences in the case that had been cited as an example of widespread Internet addiction to online games in Korea.

“The defendants should have looked after their underweight and premature baby but they got addicted to a computer game, didn’t feed her well and they even hit her. The couple’s irresponsible behavior led to the baby’s death,” ruled Judge Yu Sang-jae. “This is an inhumane and immoral crime that can’t be forgiven for any reason.”

Prosecutors had sought a five-year jail term for both the husband and wife, who were surnamed Kim. Judge Yu decided to give a lighter sentence because they had expressed remorse and were awaiting the birth of another child. The wife promised the judge that she would take good care of her new baby.

According to investigators, the couple met in 2008 on the Internet and the baby was born prematurely last June. Due to her low birth weight she was placed in an incubator for 40 days after her birth. Once she came home, investigators alleged that she was fed only once a day as her parents spent up to 12 hours a day playing the Internet game Pirus, which involved the raising of a virtual child. The real baby died last September.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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