In 2010, a ten-month infant in Seoul, South Korea died of malnutrition. The subsequent investigation showed that the parents of the child left her at home alone while they spent over 10 hours at a game house playing a popular video game. Director Valerie Veatch’s Love Child takes a look at not only the court case surrounding this incident, but also the concept of video game addiction that the repercussions it has on individuals.
The film itself spends little time on the actual court case involving the death of young Sarang, which ironically means ‘love’ in Korean. The couple plead guilty to manslaughter so the case was fairly cut and dry except for the fact that it brought to light the new idea of game addiction.
Even though the film is a brisk 75 minutes, it still felt overly long. It’s loaded with a random assortment of imagery, from intentionally poorly rendered people sitting at computers, to overtly symbolic scenes such as a man’s hand holding a woman’s. This visual style didn’t work whatsoever, which is unfortunate because the opening and closing titles are very well done.
The idea that there just wasn’t enough information here added to the monotony of the film as well. The rehashing of concepts got tired, and the extended and overly long video game sequences seemed unnecessary. Another irony to the story is that the game the couple played involves raising a child, but we didn’t have to keep coming back to cut scenes in the game to get the point.
There is a fair amount of interesting information in Love Child however. As a gamer myself, the topic of game addiction is one that I’m close to, and it was fascinating to learn about how gaming affects the Korean culture and their economy.
Another interesting aspect is that video game addiction is now being looked at as being on the same level as drug and alcohol addiction. Studies are showing that it affects the brain and one’s emotions in the same way, which seems odd, but not that surprising if you think about it.
If you’re unfamiliar with game addiction or if you know someone that may be considered a game addict, Love Child is certainly worth a look. Unfortunately, the aesthetics and tedious pacing make it difficult to be more than a light recommendation. Sarang’s story is certainly one that needs to be told though, so this kind of tragedy never happens again.