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On the eve of South Korean President Park Geun-hye's third anniversary in office, protesters gathered in Seoul on Wednesday to condemn the administration's increasing crackdown on free speech. These protesters were unlike any others Seoul has seen. They were holograms.
The life-size hologram "ghosts" marched across a transparent screen facing an old palace gate at Gwanghwamun Square, a historic center in Seoul.
"Promise us democracy! Promise us freedom of assembly!" the holographic figures chanted for 30 minutes, as a real crowd of more than 100 — mostly journalists and organizers — watched.
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.
In South Korea, concerns have been raised over the government's attempts to ban protests and its use of a Cold War-era national security law to make certain kinds of speech illegal...
...Amnesty Korea's initial request to hold a rally — a live, human one — was rejected by the Seoul Metropolitan Police earlier this month, on the grounds that the rally would disrupt traffic. The refusal prompted Amnesty to organize the virtual gathering, filming 120 volunteers on a blue screen and encouraging citizens to upload their voices to the Amnesty website.