Love Child


Crime / Documentary / News

IMDb Rating 5.7 10 304

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by StevePulaski 7 / 10

Somewhat impressionistic for a documentary but surely the first of many about this topic to come

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.

Reviewed by DrGerbil 5 / 10

A Warning To All Of Us About Internet Addiction

This is the story of a South Korean couple who left their newborn baby unattended for hours at a time on a daily basis while they played online games in an internet parlor. This is a story which is worth learning about.

The movie, however, is poorly edited. There is lengthy boring footage of video games, and worse, meandering, meaningless sequences of random people doing irrelevant things, none of which are germane to the story.

Still worth watching as an important cautionary tale. This legal case has made history due to it being the first of its kind--internet addiction actually causing a fatality. Laws have been passed and new methods devised for dealing with this relatively recent form of addiction.

Another criticism I have is that "internet addiction" must surely be a secondary diagnosis to a more serious problem. I wish this had been addressed more fully.

Reviewed by SusieSalmonLikeTheFish 7 / 10

Disturbing Beyond Belief

If I told you that a married couple let their baby die because they were too busy playing video games to remember she was even there, what would your reaction be? Well, sadly this is a true case, and that is what Love Child is about, a Korean couple who became addicted to playing a complex online game involving taking care of a fairy baby that gains magical powers as it grows up.

Love Child does not try to make the couple look bad, in fact it shows pity for them more than anything else. Korea is surrounded by technology and anime gaming online, looking similar to the city of Neo-Tokyo on the 1988 anime movie Akira. Games are complex with amazing graphics and exciting plots. I'm sure we can all agree, although I'm not much of a gamer, that in moderation the internet is a useful and fun tool to explore and communicate with the world. So how did it become a monster that drew a young couple away from their own baby to take care of a virtual one? Love Child explains exactly this, using clips from the online games, clips of Korea's complex technological atmosphere, news broadcasts about the death of the baby and clips of the court trial. It also declares that internet addiction is becoming more of a realized issue than an idea, even being considered a mental health issue like drugs or booze.

There may possibly be many more cases like this one, but Love Child has documented the first. At times the internet café clips got a bit boring but the film was shocking and eye-opening, and terrifying to even consider that parents could let their baby die over a stupid game. The film was dedicated to the baby, whose name was 'Love' in Korean.

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