SEOUL – Cheil Worldwide and Samsung have set out to fulfill “The Last Wish” of seniors who have been separated from their families because of the Korean War. Their only wish is seeing the faces of their loved ones before death. Through collaborating with several organizations, Cheil helped these separated families reunite after decades – in a photograph.
As of 2015, estimated number of remaining families in South Korea separated by the Korean War is around 66,000. They have not seen their families for nearly 70 years. The possibility of reuniting with the family is fairly low. Furthermore, more than 80% of them are seniors over the age of 70. With each passing year, they realize they are running out of time. Parted since childhood, now they are old enough to say their last wish is to see the faces of their families before death.
Cheil Worldwide and Samsung have committed themselves to fulfilling the families’ last wishes. For decades, these families held on to one object which they cherished most: old, faded family photographs. With the help of 3D age progression technology, a new family photo has been created as if the families were reunited at the present.
At first, Cheil reached out to 23 persons, identified by the Korean Red Cross, who fortunately had old photographs dating back to before the Korean War. They willingly handed out their only family photo, hoping to be reunited once again. The 3D age progression technology of Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), originally developed to identify criminals and missing persons, predicted faces of the separated family members based on the old family photographs, and transformed to what they would look like at the present.
To raise public awareness on separated families, a three-day exhibition showcasing newly created family reunion photos were held in August 2015. The two brothers, Yeong-gyun and Yeong-bo Kwon, shed tears as they stood before the picture of the three siblings. Saying how much their sister looks like their mother, who is now deceased, they mumbled how happy they are to see her at least this way. They introduced their daughter and granddaughter to their great aunt. Everyone took another family photo in front of the exhibit.
“The separated families are only few kilometers away from each other, but had to endure decades of yearning,” said Seho Kwon, Creative Director of Cheil Worldwide. “We wanted to comfort these families who have long been weary of the wait. We believe that ‘The Last Wish’ campaign will lead to continuous support for the reunion of the separated families.”