So April Fool’s Day came and went yesterday and to be honest, given the situation in the world right now, everyone is not quite in the mood for jokes—especially Covid-19-related jokes.

We knew it was bound to happen: someone would joke about contracting Covid-19 or crack an equally bad joke.

Well, it happened.

Korean singer Kim Jaejoong, part of K-pop group JYJ, uploaded a post on Instagram saying that he had contracted the coronavirus. He claimed he had contracted the illness after he failed to be careful and follow the cautionary word given by the government.

The South Korean government had asked people to self-isolate and practise social distancing to curb the spread of the disease. The country saw a sharp rise in the number of infections in February, partly due to the alleged irresponsible behaviour of members of a cult. Since then, the government had tried to control the situation by setting up drive-through test centres, where people can get tested quickly and easily.

They also asked the public to stop large gatherings and remain indoors.

In his Instagram post, Jaejoong claimed he was in hospital because of the illness.

jaejoong-prank-april-fool-coronavirus

However, he later edited his caption to reveal that he did not have Covid-19. He explained that he did that to raise awareness about the illness. He said a lot of the people around him had been tested positive for the coronavirus, and reminded people to not ignore social distancing recommendations.

He added that he didn’t think of it as an April Fool’s joke, but as a message for people to protect themselves and the people around them. He ended the post by saying he would accept punishment for the post. He later deleted the post.

He then uploaded another post to apologise for making people worried and for disrupting administrative work (their MOH/NCID counterpart probably had started investigating).

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해서는 안 될 행동이라고도 저 스스로도 인식하고 있습니다. 먼저 제가 SNS 쓴 글로 인해 코로나 바이러스 19로 인해 피해 받으신 분들, 행정업무에 지장을 받으신 분들께 진심으로 죄송하다는 말씀과 사과드립니다. 옳지 않다는 판단. 알고 있습니다. 현재 느슨해진 바이러스로부터의 대처 방식과 위험성의 인식. 코로나 바이러스 19로 인해 피해 받을 분들을 최소화시키기 위해 경각심을 가졌으면 하는 마음에서 메시지를 전달하고 싶었습니다. 봄이 찾아와 따뜻해진 계절의 야외에서의 여가생활, 개학이 미뤄지고 여유로워진 시간을 활용한 밀폐된 공간에서의 접촉 등으로 제2의 제3의 코로나 패닉을 낳을 수 있다는 생각에 너무나 무섭습니다. 저의 아버지도 얼마 전 폐암 수술을 받으시고 줄곧 병원에 다니셨습니다. 그러면서 병원에 계신 의료진과 환자들을 보면서 뭔가 화가 나기도 하고 바이러스가 남의 일이 아니라 자신의 일이었다면 하는 생각이 들었습니다. 그래서 정작 코로나 바이러스 19로 인해 벗어나고자 노력하는 분들과는 반대로 평상시와 다를 바 없는 복장과 마스크를 착용하지 않은채 여가생활을 즐기고 계시는 분들이 많다는 이야기에 경각심이 필요 하다 생각 했습니다 다양한 정보매체와 인터넷에서도 크고 작은 주의를 요청하고 있는 가운데 그 이야기를 들어주지 않는 사람들에게 어떻게해서든 현시점의 위험성을 전달하고 싶었습니다. "제발. 귀 기울여주세요. 제발. 아프지 말고 아픔을 겪지 마세요." 라구요. 제 주변에서마저도 확진자가 생겨나고 있습니다. 먼 곳의 이야기가 아니란 걸 확신했고 두려움은 배로 느껴졌습니다. 사람을 잃고 나서야 반성하는 태도는 아무런 도움이 되지 않습니다. 답답하고 힘들지만 지금보다 더.. 조금 더 노력해서 이 힘든 시기를 함께 이겨내고 싶습니다. 오늘의 글..지나치지만, 지나칠 정도의 관심을 가져주신다면 이야를 들어주지 않을까라는 방법이 많은 분들에게 상처를 드리고 비난을 받고 있습니다. 제 글로 인하여 코로나 바이러스를 위해 애쓰시는 정부기관과 의료진들 그리고 지침에 따라 생활을 포기 하며 극복을 위해 힘쓰는 많은 분들께 상심을 드린 점 진심으로 사과드립니다.

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He called it a “bad judgment” on his part. He said, “My father recently had lung cancer surgery and went to the hospital often. When I saw the healthcare workers and patients in the hospital, I was a bit angry and wished that everyone would think of the virus not as someone else’s problem, but their own.”

He added that the healthcare workers are busy fighting the outbreak, but some people simply refused to be socially responsible.

He admitted that he went too far with the initial post and apologised for causing distress to the government agencies, healthcare professionals and those who are already following the government’s instructions.

Jaejoong, who is currently promoting his new single in Japan, cancelled a radio show last night after the scandal broke out.

A representative from Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) told a Korean news outlet that they are investigating the case, and as it involves spreading of false information, they are discussing what the punishment will be.

They added that while people who incite disorder by continually making malicious prank calls to the epidemic prevention authorities are punishable by law, Jaejoong’s case is different as it involves a celebrity using social media to make a false claim.

Meanwhile, a petition for Jaejoong to be punished has surfaced on the Blue House’s website.

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