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If you had the chance to reunite with a deceased loved one in virtual reality, would you?
A South Korean documentary called “Meeting You,” broadcasted the emotional reunion of a mother and an avatar of her daughter, who died in 2016 at the age of seven from an unidentified illness.
Jang Ji-sung, the mother of four, wore a VR headset and gloves that allowed her to see, hear and touch the digitized version of her daughter. Jang was filmed in front of a green screen and formed her hands as though she was holding the girl’s face.
The documentary, which aired on the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, aims to reunite grieving relatives with lost family members. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported that the duo spent some time in a digitized park. The Daily Mail reported that the girl interacted with her mother, and told her that she misses her. The mother grew emotional and replied, “I miss you, too.”
The girl eventually tells her mother that she is tired and falls asleep.
During the filming, Jang’s husband and one of her other children watched from the audience and were also brought to tears.
“Maybe it’s a real paradise,” Jang said. “I met Nayeon (her daughter), who called me with a smile, for a very short time, but it’s a very happy time. I think I’ve had the dream I’ve always wanted.”
Dr. Blay Whitby, a technology ethicist from the University of Sussex, told the Mail that the show raises some concern. He said the virtual reality aspect of reuniting with a deceased loved one is new ground and the long-term psychological toll is unknown.
“We just don’t know the psychological effects of being “reunited” with someone in this way,” he said.