When a woman loses her husband, she is called a widow. When a man loses his wife, he is called a widower. And when a child loses his/her parents, he/she is called an orphan. But what do you call a parent who has lost his/her child? English has no word for it, because the pain is so unimaginable, there is no word that can describe it.
Unfortunately, mum Jang Ji-sung had to go through such pain when her daughter, seven-year-old Nayeon died three years ago.
But thanks to virtual reality (VR), the South Korean mum was able to reunite with her deceased child, even for a short while. One of the country’s broadcasters, MBC, made it possible through the documentary 너를 마났다 (translated as “Meeting You”). It aired in South Korea on Thursday (6 Feb).
Mum Reunites With Deceased Daughter Through VR In South Korea
A preview of the scene where Jang and her departed daughter was shared on MBC’s youtube page which showed the cut between both worlds—the real and the virtual one—where the two met again.
According to MBC, the production team took eight months to develop virtual reality. They used motion capture technology to record the movements of a child actor that they could later use as a model for their virtual Nayeon, and reproduced her voice. They also designed a virtual park—based on the one the mother-daughter duo frequented—where they would meet.
In the preview, we see Jang talking to her daughter, while her husband and 3 other children watch from a monitor.
“Mum, where have you been?”
Not a dry eye in the room when a virtual model of Nayeon showed up in the screen, running towards her mother saying: “Mum, where have you been? Did you think of me?”
Mum meets deceased daughter through VR | Image source: Screenshot/MBC VR휴먼다큐멘터리 – 너를 만났다
Jang, was seen attempting to touch her daughter. In the interview, she said: “I wanted to touch my daughter. I tried to hold her hand and stroke her face.”
In VR, Jang and her daughter “touched hands.” Jang also sang her daughter a birthday song. They had seaweed soup (a traditional Korean birthday dish) and she gave her a piece of honey cake “that she wanted to eat.”
Jang and her daughter “celebrated” her birthday. | Image source: Screenshot/MBC VR휴먼다큐멘터리 – 너를 만났다
Nayeon also blew the candles and even made a wish: “Please don’t let my dad smoke… please don’t let my mum cry.”
The meeting ended with Nayeon lying in bed. Reading Jang her letter saying she will remember her for a long time: “Goodbye, mum, I love you.” to which the mum replied, “me too.” Nayeon went back to sleep and like magic, vanished and turned a butterfly.
After the whole experience, Jang said, while it wasn’t completely like her daughter, it felt like she “saw her daughter at the moment.” She said the experience taught her not to miss her child anymore, but love her more instead.
Three years before mum reunites with deceased daughter through VR
Nayeon, 7. |Image source: Screenshot/MBC VR휴먼다큐멘터리 – 너를 만났다
Jang’s daughter Nayeon is the third of her four children. She was diagnosed with a rare disease called haemochromatosis. Haemochromatosis is a medical condition in which a person absorbs too much iron from their diet which causes “iron overload.” It accumulates around the body over time, damaging many organs, including the liver, and eventually causing disease and even death.
There is currently no cure for haemochromatosis but there are treatments available.
Nayeon passed away at age 7 in the fall of 2017.
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