Internet ‘addiction’ said to be on the riseVarious reports show a worryingly high level of Internet “addiction” in Korea. About 4.3 million Koreans are Web addicts, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion. Last May, the agency tested 2,000 people between the ages of 10 and 40 using a special Internet addiction diagnostic test. Among them, 18 percent were found to be in high danger or potential danger of addiction, requiring treatment. The agency said that the percentage would approximate 4.3 million addicts nationwide. Internet addiction was defined by looking at a combination of physical as well as psychological factors, including depression, weakening of eyesight, and a rise in blood pressure. At the Center for Internet Addiction, Prevention, and Counseling, the number of counseling cases has increased over the past two years. There were 2,599 cases in 2002; they rose to 3,774 last year. As of July this year, there have been 3,582 cases. Middle school students made up almost 60 percent of those with addiction problems. Another survey conducted by the Information Ministry found that two out of 10 teenagers showed signs of Web addiction. The problem was also addressed at National Assembly hearings yesterday. Grand National Party lawmaker Shim Jae-yup presented data estimating that there are 340,000 afflicted teenagers. Hong Chang-sun, an Uri Party legislator, said 780,000 Koreans suffered from the severest form of Internet addiction, but there are only 250 specialized counselors. by Chung Sun-gu, Wohn Dong-hee
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