Ghost holograms gather in Seoul to protest Korea's crackdown on free speech

A holographic “ghost rally”. Photo: Korea Times

Protesters gathered in Seoul this week, the night before South Korean President Park Geun-hye's third anniversary in office, to condemn his administration's growing crackdown on free speech. But these protesters were life-size hologram "ghosts," and they marched over a transparent screen facing an old palace gate in the city's historic Gwanghwamun Square.

"Promise us democracy! Promise us freedom of assembly!" the holographic figures chanted.

From National Public Radio:

The "ghost protest," organized by Amnesty International in Korea, followed the world's first-ever hologram demonstrations in Spain. Last April, thousands of virtual demonstrators marched in Madrid to protest the controversial Citizen Safety Law, which set extreme fines for demonstrators convening outside government buildings.

From the Korea Times:

Police officers were near the projection site, taking photos and videos of Amnesty International members who projected the images and people who gathered there to support the virtual protest.

The police had already warned the group that the virtual rally could violate the law on assembly and demonstration.

"If the event includes chanting indicative of a collective expression of opinion, it can be considered as a demonstration, and this means the rally would be illegal because the organizer did not report it in advance," said Lee Sang-won, commissioner of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Tuesday.

Violators of the law are punishable with two years in prison or a 2 million won fine.

"We will review the images thoroughly and the atmosphere in which the projection took place," a police officer, who identified himself as Kwon, said.

The police will first have to decide whether the hologram event is a demonstration or a cultural activity.