Actor Song Seung-hun donated 200 million won for emergency relief in earthquake-stricken Japan. / Korea Times file
By Lee Hyo-won
An increasing number of local artists and cultural organizations, including “hallyu” celebrities and religious groups, are making donations to earthquake-struck Japan.
On Monday evening, actor Song Seung-hun, popular in the neighboring country through TV soaps, donated 200 million won for emergency relief to the Salvation Army Korea Territory, said the organization.
"In light of such a distressing event, it’s the least I could do and I hope it can provide a little bit of consolation and inspires others to help,” Song said. Some 30 donors combined have given over 13 million won to the local Salvation Army according to its website. The organization also plans to hold fundraising events in some 20 locations around Seoul on Friday and Saturday.
The Jogye Order, Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, held an emergency meeting Monday to set up an aid organizing committee headed by Ven. Hyekyung. It has decided to send five representatives to Japan and plans to send some 500 volunteers that can provide help onsite. The Jogye Order has already donated 100 million won for relief aid, while temples across the country will hold memorial services on Saturday for quake victims.
Local Christian community service organization Korean Diakonia announced Monday that it will join forces with the Union Christian Service Center and Korea Christian Service to raise funds for the Japanese. Korean Diakonia said it would contact affiliations in the neighboring Asian country to determine details.
Actor-singer Ryu Shi-won contributed 200 million won, his agency announced Monday.
“I gave many cross-country concert tours across Japan, and I can recall the faces of my fans, particularly in the Sendai region. I’ve been watching the state of the disaster on television, and it breaks my heart because it feels like it happened to my own family,” Ryu told Yonhap News.
Choi Ji-woo, affectionately called Ji-woo Himae by Japanese fans, also donated 200 million won, according to her agency Tuesday.
“I am most worried about the children there. I wish I could go there right away and share their agony, but it is sad that even the relief squad is having difficulty with access due to radioactivity. I will go and help when the situation settles down,” Choi wrote on her website Sunday. Her “Winter Sonata” co-star Bae Yong-joon gave 1 billion won on Monday.
K-pop group Kara plans to donate all proceeds from its new single album sales to Japanese victims, the girl band’s agency DPS Media said Monday.
“Kara will donate all profits made from its third Japanese single album ‘Jet Coast Love,’ which will be released on March 23. The cash gift will go to an emergency relief organization through the music distribution company Universal Japan,” said DPS Media.
Many Korean writers have expressed condolences through Twitter. “Watching the disaster in Japan on television, I feel humbled to realize anew how small humans are in the face of nature,” wrote novelist Lee Oi-soo.
Eun Hee-kyung said the way the Japanese are dealing with the disaster reminds her of the way Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami described the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake in “All God’s Children Can Dance.”
She also quoted Japanese novelist Keiichi Hirano: “Let us think that our lives are like novels with a dazzlingly happy ending. Your story is currently on a page in the middle. In the following pages, scores of characters will help save you, the hero of the story.”
Hirano shared the state of affairs in Japan through Twitter in Korean, to which local fans have responded with consolatory messages. “I thank readers in Korea for the numerous messages,” he wrote. “My office is a disaster but I’m unharmed. But the damage in the Tohoku region is considerable. Please pray that the victims can be rescued.”
유명 인사들 앞다퉈 성금모금에 동참
강진으로 초토화된 일본을 돕기 위해 성금 모금에 동참하는 “한류” 스타와 종교 단체 등 국내 예술 문화계 인사들이 점점 늘어나고 있다.
월요일 저녁TV드라마로 일본에 널리 알려진 인기스타 송승헌이 구세군 한국지부에 긴급 구호를 위해 2억원을 쾌척했다.
송씨는 “이와 같은 고통스런 상황에서 제가 할 수 있는 최소한이라고 생각하며 조금이라도 위로가 됐으면 좋겠다"며 "다른 사람들도 이웃나라 일본을 돕는데 동참하기를 바라는 마음”이라고 말했다.
그 밖에 약 30여명이 1,300여 만원을 구세군에 보내왔으며 구세군은 금요일과 토요일 서울 시내 20여 곳에서 성금 모금을 벌일 계획이다.
국내 불교 최대 종파인 조계종은 월요일 종무회의를 열어 혜경스님을 위원장으로 하는 ‘일본 지진해일 재난구호 대책위’를 구성했다. 조계종은 5명으로 구성된 대표단을 일본에 파견하고 현장에서 도움을 주도록 500여명의 자원봉사자를 보내기로 했다. 종단은 이미 1억원의 성금을 보냈으며 전국 사찰에서 지진 희생자들의 영령을 위해 토요일 추모 법회를 가질 예정이다.
기독교계 봉사기관인 한국 디아코니아는 월요일 기독교연합봉사회와 한국기독교봉사회에 합류해 일본인 희생자들을 위해 성금을 모금하기로 했다. 한국 다이코니아는 세부 사항을 확정하기 위해 일본 가맹 단체들을 접촉하기로 했다고 밝혔다.
한류 배우 류시원도 이날 성금으로 2억 원을 냈다고 기획사가 발표했다.
그 외에도 일본 팬들에게 지우 히매로 알려진 탤런트 최지우씨도 2억 원을 내 놓았다.
걸그룹 카라는 새로운 싱글앨범 판매 대금을 일본인 지진 희생자들을 위해 기부하기로 했다고 기획사가 월요일 발표했다.