Koreans and Video Game Addiction — What’s the Cure?

By | July 5, 2014

A baby starves to death because her parents don’t have time to feed her.  Why the hell are they so busy?  They’re raising a virtual child in an online game.

A two year old dies because her a-hole father spends entire days at an Internet café.

A son kills his mother because she tries to prevent him from playing games.

These were just some of the cases from Korea related to video game addiction.  An HBO documentary about the first case is to be released this month.

I’m a gamer and a father.  I’m not a psychiatrist or Korean.  I was born in Korea, my parents are 1st generation, I have some inside perspective on Korean life, but I was raised in California and so I’m an outsider.

Am I a game addict?  No, but there have been times in my life where I believe I was close.  Several years ago, I had lost my job and had health issues.  I needed an escape.  I drank.  Did some other things.  But mostly my diversion from the crappiness of reality was the virtual world.  I spent an hour a day sending out job applications.  And then it was gaming.  Didn’t matter which game, really.  Eight, ten hours straight, I played.

Did it help?


Was it better than other things like drinking?


When I played games, I didn’t think about anything else.  It engaged my mind.  I didn’t get a hangover.  It wasn’t expensive.  I often felt a sense of accomplishment after playing games.  Building a new city, unlocking items, taking over an entire continent, and so on.  For me, it was better than drugs or sex.

Luckily, I found a good job, got married, had a kid, found religion….  But though the cases in Korea are extreme and inexcusable, there’s a part of me that understands the need.  It happens all over the world in different forms.  Drugs, gambling, so on.  But video games make news because it’s high-tech.

Some Koreans want to legislate — would new laws solve the problem?  What exactly is the root of the problem?  Where does it come from?  For an addiction to occur, there has to be a need to escape.  So what are they trying to escape?

Again, I’m an outsider.  I visit Korea once every few years, but I don’t know what Koreans have to deal with — not first hand.  I had some theories, some of which were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in a different post.  I do know it’s a high-tech culture.  Everything’s wired.  Internet access is everywhere.  Highly competitive.  Highly materialistic.  Group mentality (and pressures).  From an early age, it’s all about money and competition.  Study, study, study.    Seems the recipe is there for gaming to be Korea’s addiction, but I can only imagine what Koreans really go through.

I would like to know more….

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