Horse Therapy For Korean Internet Addicts

Internet addicts in South Korea are being encouraged to conquer their web cravings - by undergoing horse-riding therapy.

Official statistics suggest 680,000 children in the country aged between 10 and 19 are addicted to surfing the net, while almost two-thirds of the population own a smartphone.

The Government has enjoyed limited success from the so-called 'Shutdown Law' it introduced last year, which blocks online gamers under 16 from playing between midnight and 6am.

But some teens are now being sent to a therapy organisation that uses horse-riding to cure emotional and behavioural disorders - which it says are the cause of internet addiction.

Doctor of child psychiatry at Samsung Medical Centre, Yoosook Joung, said: "It is a very fun activity, but it is not just a simple physical activity but involves a living thing.

"The horse-riding is a new experience, which combines physical activity with an emotional connection with a horse, so it can help overcome internet addiction."

Among those teenagers sent to the Riding Healing Centre near capital city Seoul is a 14-year-old girl who preferred to be identified only by her surname, Kim.

Her parents had tried a range of methods to stem their daughter's addiction - before her school suggested the horse-riding therapy.

"I used to play with computers for seven hours a day, even overnight if my mother went on a trip," she said.

"I care about horses and think about how I could ride them better, which has made me lose interest in computers and the internet,"

The Korean Riding Association has two therapy centres, treating around 50 people a day for issues including internet addiction, and plans to build 30 more across South Korea by 2022 to meet rising demand.

Ms Kim's mother said she was pleased with the results.

"After the therapy, she barely goes on the internet," she said. "If she does, she makes a promise to me first about how long she will play on the computer."