Boy succumbs in Vietnam forest as teen culprit fumbles virtual rescue

By Nguyen Hai, Nguyen Quy   June 10, 2020 | 07:15 pm GMT+7
Boy succumbs in Vietnam forest as teen culprit fumbles virtual rescue
The forest in Yen Thanh District, Nghe An Province where the body of five-year-old Ho Van Do was found on June 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai.
A 17-year-old has been arrested for allegedly kidnapping a five-year-old boy, leaving him in a forest to die, in imitation of an online game.

Police in the central province of Nghe An arrested Dao Ngoc Hoang, an 11th-grader, on Tuesday for his involvement in the death of five-year-old Ho Van Do, whose body was found next to a stream in a forest in Yen Thanh District, his hands tied and mouth covered with a gag and duct tape.

Hoang admitted to police he was addicted to an online hide and seek game. Last Sunday, the teenager kidnapped Do and took him to a nearby forest with the purpose of hiding, then rescuing the boy, like players do in the game.

However, when Do’s family and local authorities rushed to locate Do, Hoang grew scared and abandoned his plans.

Based on security camera footage, authorities identified Hoang as the last person in contact with Do. On Tuesday, after being summoned, Hoang led local authorities to the area where Do was hidden.

Initial autopsy results showed no wounds on the boy’s body, with investigators suspecting Do died of thirst and hunger.

Police are expanding the investigation.

Addiction to games has been recognized by World Health Organization as a mental health disorder, and can pose problems the same as cocaine or gambling.

Online game addiction amongst the youth has emerged as a social issue in Vietnam in recent years, with a large number of students skipping classes to play, while Internet shops defy bans to remain open all day long.

Of the 51 million mobile phone users in Vietnam, 33 million play online games. The number is forecast to reach 40 million by 2020, says a report by Appota, a developer and provider of Vietnamese digital entertainment platforms.

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