05/03/2010 09:01 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Parents Let Three-Month-Old Baby Starve To Death While They Raise 'Virtual Child'

A South Korean couple left their own baby to starve to death, while they spent time raising their 'virtual daughter' online.

According to police reports, the 41-year-old father, Kim Yoo-chul, and his 25-year-old wife, Choi Mi-sun, would spend up to 12 hours online in Internet cafes, while their real infant was left alone in their apartment.

The premature baby died from severe malnutrition after being fed only once a day. The little girl had previously been cared for by her grandmother, but her health began to deteriorate after she was returned to her parents. The couple were arrested five months after reporting the death.

Police sources say the couple became addicted to their virtual life after they both lost their jobs.

The couple had become obsessed with second-life site PRIUS where they raised their imaginary daughter, Anima. According to police they had become detached from reality and escaped into their virtual existence.

Gaming is an incredibly popular pastime in South Korea, where a 27-year-old man recently died after a 50 hour gaming marathon.

After they were apprehended by the police, the couple admitted the neglect claiming that the subsequent guilt had driven them away from computer gaming.

In this horrific case of abuse are the parents solely to blame, or are the virtual-life sites partly responsible for turning gamers into addicts?