In case you have lost count of the days of the week (thanks to all that self-isolation), yesterday was April Fool’s Day. As the world had other pressing matters to attend to, it’s completely understandable that celebration of this Western holiday flew above the heads of most. One would also think at grave times such as these, no one would sensibly joke about an ongoing global pandemic that has taken the lives of thousands. However, it seems like OG K-pop idol, Kim Jaejoong landed himself in hot water after a prank went horribly wrong.
On 1 April, the 34-year-old singer posted a photo on his Instagram account with the following caption,
“I have contracted Coronavirus. It was careless of me to live disregarding all of the cautions provided by the government and those around me. Just how big could one individual’s behavior impact all of society be…
I am sorry to those who could have been infected by me. The stupid judgements I made has now led me to this. I lived thinking it would never happen to me.
I am currently hospitalised. I currently feel grateful and apologetic, reflecting on my past.
There are so many things I want to say…
There are so many people I want to see…”– Kim Jaejoong
News of Kim’s apparent contracting of the novel Coronavirus spread like wildfire. It was immediately picked up by South Korean news outlets and fans flooded his comments section with words of encouragement and concern. The huge reaction is not a surprise considering how influential Kim Jaejoong is as a celebrity. He was once a member of the super popular boy band, TVXQ which fronted the Hallyu wave in the 2000s. He also has a successful solo career in Japan and is part of the trio boy group, JYJ. To put it into perspective, it would be like if Harry Styles were to say he tested positive for the Coronavirus (*touch wood*).
After his post started garnering mass attention, Kim posted one more time, revealing that he, in fact, did not contract the virus and was not currently hospitalised. Concern quickly turned to outrage and the K-pop idol received major backlash from not just the media, but the public in general.
Kim then clarified that he made this April Fool’s joke to highlight the importance of vigilance during this pandemic. “What if a person you love or a person precious to you was infected with a virus?” he said, “That would be heartbreaking.” He then went on to state that around him more and more people are being confirmed to be carrying the virus so his post should be treated as a sort of ‘cautionary tale’. “This prank was too much to be considered a simple April Fool’s Day joke,” Kim stated in his second IG post, “The virus is not just something that happens to others. I wanted to tell everyone that protecting yourself is the solution to protecting those precious to you. I will accept all punishments that I deserve for this post.”
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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.
He was not far off as Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced that they will be looking into the matter and discussing a possible punishment for Kim. “It’s possible to punish those who are reported for inciting disorder by continually making malicious prank phone calls to the epidemic prevention authorities,” a representative of the KCDC stated, “However this case is something done by a celebrity on social media, and so it seems more internal discussion is required.”
As of writing this article, no verdict has been announced on what kind of ‘punishment’ Kim may be receiving. Meanwhile, international news outlets have picked up this story, increasing the spotlight on the K-pop idol.
Stay tuned for more updates on this news.