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by Bryce J. Renninger
October 9, 2012 1:09 PM
16 Comments
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Will You See This Movie? Sundance Alum Directs Doc about First Successful Internet Addiction Manslaughter Defense

An image from Valerie Veatch's "Love Child." David Foox

Last week, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) announced that its 2013 edition will include Internet-use disorder as a condition recommended for further study.  It's not a disorder yet, but it has now officially been used successfully as a defense against two parents accused of negligence and manslaughter for the death of their child.

You probably remember seeing it on the news: Kim Yoo-chul and Choi Mi-sun were so obsessed with the virtual world Prius that they allowed their infant daughter to starve to death.

While the U.S. media hasn't reported on the story since it broke in 2010, the couple was not found to be culpable for manslaughter because the court recognized their internet addiction as a mental disorder that absolved them of blame.

Valerie Veatch, the co-director of last year's Sundance and HBO hit "Me at the Zoo," headed to South Korea to follow up on this story for her new film, "Love Child."

The couple has welcomed their third child, and Kim is now a taxi driver.  Neither one of them game.  Veatch and her team talked to the police detective on the case, the lawyer, game developers and professors, but she also spent time with the couple and their family.  "Even the grandmother was playing this game, on level 74," Veatch told Indiewire.

Reflecting on what she has learned while making the film, Veatch added, "Korea has had high speed Internet for much longer than we have in the States.  They have a very sophisticated gaming industry and culture.  This story was completely different as it was played in the international news media.  It was fear that drives these news stories."

Valerie Veatch. Jordan Bree Long

"We talked to game developers to talk about how they're dealing with this immersion.  Often times, the gaming industry is funding non-profits to do this kind of research.  The gaming industry has such a complex economy and is based on this immersion.  We're not trying to induce fear, but we're trying to open up a conversation.  The Korean government itself isn't hoping to be a killjoy.  They, amongst others, realize that we do need to think about these issues."

Veatch's producer Dong Hyun Kim offered his own explanation for Korea's rampant gaming culture:  "Korean culture is all about collective organization in groups, and online gaming is the best example of such group activities.  Most people prefer playing online games with their existing real-world friends in PC bangs. The PC bang culture also fits well with Korean public bath culture where groups of family and friends do the same activities rather than being more independent."  To quote the film's current synopsis, the filmmakers are investigating "how today's Korean gaming culture seeks harmony, in a world where virtual is the new reality."

Veatch and Kim are producing with David Foox.  Cinematography is by Daniel B Levin.  The film is in post-production now, and Veatch is hoping it will debut in the spring of 2013.

For more information on the film, visit its website or Facebook page.

Below is the film's trailer, making its world premiere on Indiewire today.

16 Comments

  • Seoyoung | October 15, 2012 10:42 AMReply

    really interesting. although i'm a Korean, i couldn't follow up the news. i'm really waiting for seeing this movie!

  • James Kim | October 14, 2012 8:50 PMReply

    Looks like a good movie – a good chance to think critically about how the issues of gaming culture in Korea are affecting or lives. I am looking forward to it : )

  • Attorney | October 11, 2012 6:17 PMReply

    This movie characterizes what will be taught in law schools 50 years into the future...way to be ahead of the curve and depict a topic that is normally thrown under the rug.

  • Larry | October 11, 2012 2:00 PMReply

    Looks like a great movie. Obviously and important issue. Glad someone had the guts to be the first to step up and address it.

  • 스아나 | October 10, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    한국의 게임, 인터넷 문화를 조명하는 의미있는 내용이 될 것 같아요! 멋진 작품 기대합니다. :)

  • Brett Joseph | October 10, 2012 10:13 AMReply

    I can't wait to see this film! This is such an important issue that is growing globally and can have dreadful consequences, as we have seen. There is clearly not enough coverage of it, at least in the US, so I am glad to see Internet and Gaming Addiction getting some exposure.
    Veatch + Foox = WIN!

  • A. Teng | October 10, 2012 3:24 PM

    Brett,
    I couldn't agree with you more. Please read my note to Gina below for more a more detailed response to your comment. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm!

  • Regina Jeon | October 10, 2012 9:44 AMReply

    Can't wait to watch. It will explain a lot about the Korean cyber/Internet culture. Refreshing!

  • SMARTROK | October 10, 2012 9:09 AMReply

    crazy but true... can't wait to see this film~!!

  • Jiyoung Kim | October 10, 2012 6:05 AMReply

    wow you guys are making a "significant" film!!
    I will be waiting for next spring!! so nice :)

  • 김형민 | October 10, 2012 4:58 AMReply

    동현이 축하한다ㅎ
    내년봄에 꼭 볼게!

  • B. Lee | October 10, 2012 1:15 AMReply

    I think this will be a highly accurate yet the most beautiful portrayal of Korean internet culture. It definitely makes me feel so proud of myself for being Korean.. Can't wait!!

  • Aliz | October 9, 2012 9:59 PMReply

    Congratulations!!
    Obsessive internet use! wow I cant wait to watch this movie.

  • Gina Bria | October 9, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    From an anthropologist's perspective, LOVE CHILD hits all the future's crossroads. Can I have permission to share it with the TEDxNewYork friday salon?

  • A. Teng | October 10, 2012 3:19 PM

    Gina, as one of the exec. producers, I speak for all of the filmmakers in saying that we greatly appreciate and encourage the sharing of this article and trailer.

    This type of addiction is a serious issue in regions outside of the United States and I find the American media less prone to discuss or engage in issues not of immediate domestic concern. Addressing and raising awareness of seemingly otherworldly social concerns is one of the reasons I joined this project.

  • Samantha Souffle | October 9, 2012 1:54 PMReply

    epic concept! internet addiction! thank you for posting this. I will share. xoxo S.S.