It's been over a month since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked northeastern Japan. Within minutes, a massive tsunami pounded the coast. Tens of thousands were either dead or missing, with many more homeless. Popstar Gackt felt compelled to do something, but turned to what many Japanese would view as an unlikely ally to help - a South Korean online game company.
Historically, Japan and Korea have had a rocky relationship. There's so much in common culturally and even linguistically, yet so much that pulls them apart. The relationship between the two countries has been improving in recent years - especially in the years since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which the two countries co-hosted. In 2010, South Korean pop exploded in Japan like never before.
However, for many years, there wasn't this open exchange between the two countries, due to a ban designed to promote homegrown products in South Korea. Thus, Japanese consoles were not sold (Nintendo didn't even establish an official branch until 2007), which is why PC gaming is so strong in Korea.
But as South Korean gaming began to slowly open to Japan during the last decade, Korean online games began slowly making their way into The Land of the Rising Sun. Online game portal Hangame was quick to see Japan's importance, rolling out a Japanese branch after its initial Korean site launched in 1999. The portal's casual PC games as well as role-playing titles proved popular with Japanese players. Yet Japan was, and still is, very much a console gaming centric country.
Japanese singer Gackt, who is no stranger to video games, is starring in a new role-playing game from Hangame. But he's also collaborating with Hangame for his Earthquake relief effort, Show Your Heart soon after the quake hit on March 11. Within days, the movement amassed 110 million yen from donations (over a million dollars). It's not only money for the Red Cross that Show Your Heart is amassing for donations. It's also collecting video messages from around the world to encourage those hit hardest by the quake, reports Sanspo.
Late last month, Gackt himself even took to the streets along with volunteers, holding a Show Your Heart collection box in hopes of collecting donations. As part of a national effort, over 5,000 Show Your Heart volunteers and celebrities collected money across the country. Earlier this month, similar efforts were held in countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and more.
Whether it's a dick-flashing comedian or a boy band singer, the Tohoku Earthquake has brought out the best in many. What's really hit home with Japan is how people continue to offer their support and encouragement - especially those outside it.