The South Korean-American documentary Love Child debuts tonight on HBO. The film covers the 2010 death in South Korea of three-month old infant Sarang. Sarang’s parents were addicted to an online game, and played it for many hours each night at an internet parlor. On the night of Sarang’s death, her parents left her unattended for many hours.
How Does This Connect to Adoption and Foster Care?
The film doesn’t cover adoption or foster care, but it makes me raise a question, perhaps because of my role as a supervisor in foster care and adoption. Sarang’s parents were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Their punishment was lessened because the court viewed their crime as a result of their addiction. Sarang’s parents are pregnant again. They have promised not to play any online games.
How much involvement should child protective services have in the early life of this new child? I can certainly see the value of monitoring this family to ensure that this new baby’s life does not become endangered. What do you think? Should the government stay away, because the family has expressed remorse and a desire to change? Should the child’s early life be monitored? Should the child preemptively be placed in alternative care? How do the rights of parents interact with the need of a child for dependable safety, and whose job is it to evaluate safety in a situation like this?
The film tries to present a balanced view of Sarang’s parents. They were negligent, but also remorseful; they made poor choices, but did face real challenges. There is value in viewing someone roundly rather than passing judgment on their character based on one observation, even when that observation is very powerful.
A photograph of Sarang’s corpse could be traumatizing to some viewers, as could some of the details of the neglect she experienced.
Sarang’s parents were addicted to an internet game called Prius. The plot of the game comes through the documentary, to some extent, and it is also troubling. Players are granted a child to raise. Later, their child chooses to die to save the player. Then, the player raises the child from the dead, but this causes long-lasting grief in the world.
The film touches on online addiction, but doesn’t go particularly deep into anything.
Love Child might be worth seeing in order to wrestle with some of the questions I ask earlier in this review, but it might be traumatic or saddening viewing for some. The film is best suited to adults instead of kids and teenagers because of some of the subject matter, and it’s not particularly entertaining or educational.
When to See It
Love Child airs on HBO at 9:00 tonight, on July 31 at 11:15 am and 6:00 pm, August 3 at 4:00 om, August 5 at 1:15 pm, and August 16 at 8:30 am.