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A Chinese woman who was presumed dead after going missing in 2005 has been found living in an internet café. The woman, known under the pseudonym Xiao Yun and now aged 24, left her family home in Zhejiang, Eastern China, following an argument with her parents when she was 14.
Police found Yun after a routine check on an internet cafe in the city of Hangzhou. After officers discovered she was using a fake ID card, Yun was taken to the local police station where police realized she matched the description of the missing woman.
Yun initially told police she had been brought up by her grandparents, but after questioning she revealed that she had spent the last decade living and sleeping in internet cafes and bath houses, spending much of her time playing free multiplayer FPS game CrossFire.
Yun said she had lived in several places over the last ten years, including Jinhua, Jiangxi, and Hangzhou, and had survived through donations from fellow internet café users. A decade of playing CrossFire had made Yun so good at the game other users would pay her to teach them the best tactics. She had also occasionally worked as a cashier in some of the cafes to earn extra money.
Yun’s parent had assumed their daughter was dead for a long time, going so far as to have her name removed from their household registrations at the local police station. But a few years ago, Yun contacted her mother on WeChat, Tencent’s messaging app that’s very popular in Asia.
Yun’s mother told Qianjiang Evening News: “I haven't changed my mobile number in the past 10 years. I thought she might get in touch when she thought of me. Afterwards, WeChat got popular, so my daughter added me by searching for my mobile number. But she never let me find her.”
After initially refusing to meet her parents - and paying the 1000 Yuan ($156) fine for using fake identification - police arranged for Yun to be reunited with her family. Seeing her daughter for the first time in ten years, Yun’s mother said: “I have a quicker temper and a strong character. I had indeed scolded her before. But after 10 years, she is a grown-up now. I will not tell her off again.”
This isn’t the first time someone in China has been found living in an internet café. In 2013, a man said to be a video game addict was found to have spent the last six years holed up in a café in Changchun. Li Meng only left his chair to buy food and occasionally shower, supporting himself by selling virtual goods for real money.