From gaming to training, virtual reality (VR) technology has come a long way since it was first introduced to the public. More commonly, however, VR technology is primarily used to teleport a user to any environment; to any time and place.
In South Korea, a TV documentary uses the technology to reunite people with their departed loved ones to allow them to create one final memory with them.
In season two of the MBC documentary 너를 만났다 (translated as “I Met You”), a 51-year-old South Korean man Kim Jung-soo was given one more chance to meet his wife through VR.
Man gets one more chance to meet his wife through VR
After years of battling a serious illness, Kim's wife died and he was left to take care of their five children. His one wish was to see “even just [his] wife’s shadow, one more time".
But the reunion almost never happened. Initially opposed by his daughters, Kim revealed he had almost lost his hope of seeing his wife again, saying that his children did not want to recall memories of their deceased parent because it was “too painful.”
In the documentary, Kim’s eldest daughter Jong-bin said they wanted to just move on and try to live a happy life following their mother’s passing and thought it would be difficult to do so if they agreed with what their father wanted.
"'It is my last wish,' he said, that’s why we decided to allow him to meet Mum again,” Jong-bin shared.
Kim’s other daughter, Jong-yun, shared that she agreed for her father to take part in the documentary because she remembers how much he loved their mother.
“He would kiss her from time to time when working, when eating, or when watching TV,” the daughter recalled. “Even when my mother was sick and lost her hair, my father would say that she was pretty and carried her around.”
Kim said while he understands why his children would feel that way towards the idea of them meeting again, he managed to convince them later by expressing how much he really wanted to see her again. This became a reality on Jan 11, 2020, four years after his wife’s passing.
“Are you not in pain anymore?”
Clips from the documentary showing the moments from Kim and his wife’s reunion were uploaded on YouTube.
In one of the videos, it showed Kim unable to hold back his tears upon entering a virtual house where he’d, later on, see his wife again. He soon began weeping when his wife finally showed up.
Seemingly overwhelmed with emotions, Kim tried to fight his tears and managed to ask his wife: “Are you not in pain anymore?” His children, who were watching them from a monitor, were also seen crying.
Meanwhile, according to the Korean broadcast company, it took six months of preparation to make the couple’s reunion possible. They had to recreate various interaction movements and Kim’s wife’s voice by combining an actor’s voice to make her sound as close to that of Kim’s wife as possible.
This is not the first time the production team took on the challenge of such an immersive experience for someone who wanted to reunite with a departed loved one. The documentary’s first season featured a mum who lost her child to a rare disease called hemochromatosis reunited with her through VR.
While the responses towards both episodes and the show were mostly positive, praising its use of the technology in such a creative manner, others criticised the show for being “emotionally manipulative.“
Here’s a clip from the episode featuring Kim Jung-soo and his beyond-the-grave reunion with his wife:
This article was first published in theAsianparent.