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Korea man returns home, with Hyundai

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In the years since it was formed in 1967, the Hyundai Motor Company has become a global brand creating automobiles suited to all corners of the world. Yet, Hyundai is still in its heart a Korean company that prides itself on its heritage. In the midst of the ongoing division between the northern and southern regions of Korea, Hyundai executives and employees feel deeply for the hurt in their homeland.

In an effort to bring solace to residents of South Korea whose lives have been ravaged by the civil war, Hyundai formed its “Going Home” project. The effort involved giving an elderly man the opportunity to drive back to his home in North Korea using virtual reality. The video—which has accumulated over 5 million views since uploaded—transcends language and geographic barriers to show how heartbreaking the Korean situation is.

The video focuses on 88-year-old Kim Gu-hyeon, who left his home in North Korea almost 70 years ago. A couple years after he moved to the southern region, the nation divided and Gu-hyeon was suddenly and permanently separated from his family. Overwhelmed with guilt for leaving his family, Gu-hyeon has struggled for most of his life with the possibility of never being able to return home, and the reality of never seeing some members of his family again.

Hyundai Going Home Project Video South North Korea Man reunite

Hyundai’s designers and programmers met with Kim Gu-hyeon to learn about how the man remembered his hometown. Then, using automotive design technology (in a specially-outfitted car) and 3D landscaping through a spatial information platform, they created a virtual simulation of driving through North Korea.

One evening, Kim Gu-hyeon is taken in a car to the VR simulator which digitally imitates the experience of driving to his home village in North Korea—something he isn’t able to do in real life. Gu-hyeon, walking through a virtual representation of a home that no longer exists, makes his way to his parents’ graves and is overcome with emotion.

According to Hyundai, “Going Home” realizes the “simple but impossible dream in virtual reality” that involves reuniting people with their homes. “On the day the two Koreas reunite as one nation, Mr. Kim’s journey back home will be accompanied by Hyundai Motor Group,” the video concludes.

As tragic as Kim Gu-hyeon’s story is, he is one of over 65,000 other North Koreans currently living in South Korea away from their original homes.

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