What if you could still see a loved one even after they were gone?
South Korean broadcaster Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) made this possible for mom Jang Ji-sung, who lost her seven-year-old daughter to blood-related diseases three years ago, Reuters reports.
In emotional video footage shared by MBC, Jang wears virtual reality goggles and stands in front of a green screen. Soon after, the viewer is able to see what she sees: a big green space, and her daughter, Na-yeon, in virtual reality.
The little girl, wearing a dress and carrying a pink Frozen-themed purse, can be seen emerging from behind a pile of wood.
“Mom, where have you been? Have you been thinking of me?” Na-yeon asks.
Her mom, choked up, responds: “Always.”
The emotional mom reaches forward to touch her daughter but sees her hands move through the virtual figure of her child.
“I really want to touch you just once,” Jang says with tears running down her face, her hands shaking. “I really missed you.”
At times throughout the video, the camera pans to Jang’s remaining family: her husband and their three children. They can be seen wiping their eyes. Though they can’t see Na-yeon, Jang’s emotions are enough to bring them to tears.
At one point, the mother and daughter celebrate Na-yeon’s missed birthdays, singing Happy Birthday together.
The heart-wrenching scene is part of a South Korean documentary called Meeting You, which shows just how far VR technology can be taken — it’s not just for video games anymore.
The clip from the documentary has been watched more than 13 million times on YouTube.
Lee Hyun-suk, director of VIVE Studios in Seoul and leader of the project, hopes that advances in technology can be used to comfort people.
“People would often think that technology is something that’s cold,” Hyun-suk said. “We decided to participate to see if technology can comfort and warm your heart when it is used for people.”
While producer Kim Jong-woo told Reuters the objective was to remember Na-yeon — not recreate her — some take issue with the nature of the film, saying it exploits grief.
“It’s understandable a grief-stricken mother would wish to meet her late daughter,” media columnist Park Sang-hyun told Agence France-Presse. “The problem lies in that the broadcaster has taken advantage of a vulnerable mother who lost a child for sake of the viewer ratings.”
For Jang, it made her happy to see her daughter one more time.
“It’s heartbreaking that her time has stopped at the age of seven,” Jang says in the video.
“But I was so happy to see her that way.”
— With files from Reuters