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Korean Families Hurt by Internet Porn and Gambling

New America Media, News Digest, Aruna Lee Posted: Dec 10, 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to its large internet use, the Korean community is experiencing a spike in online porn and gambling addiction. Aruna Lee monitors Korean media for New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO -- Increasing numbers of Korean Americans are becoming addicted to online pornography and gambling sites according to a recent article in the Korea Times in Los Angeles.

Sang Jin Lee (not his real name), 25, is currently receiving treatment at a local hospital in Riverside County, CA, for his online gambling addiction.

Lee says he lost his job at a lending agency because of his habit, which began with poker games between friends, but quickly led to Lee losing his life savings. To re-pay his bets Lee was forced to borrow $20,000 from a neighborhood loan shark, who Lee says, threatened him when he was late in making his payments.

In an interview with the Korea Times, Kyung Ho Kim (not his real name), 37, says his addiction to the Internet has seriously strained his marriage. Kim was hooked on sites about sports and cars, but soon his habit spilled over into online gambling and pornography. He says the time he spends gambling online or surfing the web has caused numerous arguments between he and his wife and brought the couple to the brink of divorce. Only after intense counseling was their marriage saved.

Hae Wang Lee, a counselor at the Korean American Center for Addiction Recovery # Korean American Center for Addiction Recovey in Los Angeles, says even though internet addiction is not currently recognized as a medical condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, (the handbook used most often in diagnosing mental disorders in the United States), Lee expects it will be very soon.

The divorce rate is growing in the Korean community, says Lee, in part because of this addiction to the internet. He says that although computers are an invaluable tool in todays society, their ubiquity in the Korean community makes addiction increasingly likely, especially in relation to online gambling and pornography.

Lee related the case of one woman whose husband became involved in a relationship via an online chat room, eventually leading to an illicit affair. Mi Jin Park (not her real name) says she was shocked to learn that her husband had developed a relationship with another woman over the internet, and that the woman had even flown from Korea to meet with him.

According to Greenfield Online, a consumer and marketing research firm, out of approximately 83 million internet users in the United States, 11 million suffer from addiction.

In addition, researchers say that 6 percent of all users experience marital or other related problems which stems from excessive amounts of time spent at the computer. Fourteen percent admit to having an addiction.

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