With COVID-19 dominating the news due to the virus’ global spread, many take news of the virus seriously. For many with family members with compromised immune systems, even joking about having the virus is somewhat of a touchy subject and no laughing matter.
On April 1, 2020, singer Jaejoong (TVXQ, JYJ) initially worried fans when he posted on social media that he is currently in the hospital with COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus).
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Jaejoong said:
I have been infected with COVID-19. It is a result of my negligence, ignoring the cautionary words shared by the government and those around me.
A person’s individual actions can have such a big impact on society as a whole. I am so sorry to those who may have been infected because of me.
My foolish judgment to live as though it couldn’t happen to me is why I am like this today. I am currently hospitalized. I am reflecting on my past a lot and feeling both grateful and sorry.
There are many things I want to say. There are many people I want to see so much.
As news spread and his agency, CJeS Entertainment, stated they were investigating the matter as the star is in Japan, Jaejoong once again posted on social media, this time to state his initial post was an April Fool’s Day joke.
What if the people we love, someone precious to us, contracted the virus?
It’s such a heart-wrenching thing to think about.
Despite this, so many people walk the streets and live their lives without their guards up, ignoring it… and thinking it won’t happen to them, and it makes me so worried that my family and friends might get sick. Believing that we and the people around us will be safe will end up making us and everything around us sick.
Currently, a growing number of my acquaintances and industry representatives are being tested positive. It is not something that is far away.
When negligence turns a sad premonition into reality, it’s not something that we can simply end by wiping our tears away.
Staying on alert right now.. That is what I say to myself again and again.
Although this did go quite far for April Fool’s Day, so many people worried about me in a short span of time.
Oh… and I don’t think of this as an April Fool’s joke. My family and my friends are getting sick.. and dying.. It’s never!! just someone else’s problem. I wanted to tell you that protecting myself is protecting the precious people around us.
I will accept all punishment I receive from this post. I hope all of you are healthy.
While the initial post saw an outpouring of well wishes, the admittance that the story was fake and his explanation fell flat with fans who called the star out on his poor joke taste and caused the hashtag #Jaejoongisoverparty to trend on Twitter. The backlash caused him to post another apology.
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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.
I am also personally aware that it was something that shouldn’t be done.
First, over the social media post I wrote, I want to express my sincere apologies to the people who have suffered because of COVID-19 and to the people who were disrupted in their administrative work.
Bad judgment. I knew that’s what this was.
The current lack of awareness of response methods and the dangerousness of the virus outbreak.
I wanted to convey that message because I hoped that people would be more aware and therefore, we could minimize the number of people who suffer because of COVID-19.
It’s so scary to think that things like people spending time outside in the warm weather as spring arrives, or coming in contact with others in an enclosed space while making use of leisurely time as the start of the semester is postponed, could cause a secondary or tertiary resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
My father also recently had lung cancer surgery and he went to the hospital often.
When I saw the medical staff and patients at the hospital, I felt a bit angry and I wished that people thought of the virus as not someone else’s problem, but their own problem.
Contrary to the people who actually are working hard to get us out of COVID-19, there are many people who enjoy their leisure time while dressing just as usual and not wearing a mask. When I heard that, I thought there needed to be more awareness.
In many different kinds of media and on the internet, there are both big and small requests for people to take caution, but there are people who do not listen to that, and I wanted to convey the dangerousness of the current situation to them one way or another. “Please, listen. Please. Don’t get sick.”
There are also confirmed cases among the people I know. This made me feel certain that this is not something that is happening far away, and it made me more scared.
Self-reflecting after losing someone is no help at all.
It’s frustrating and hard but I want to try a bit harder than now and get through this difficult time together. My post today… it went very far, but I thought that if people paid a large amount of interest to it, then they might listen. This method has hurt a lot of people and I am receiving criticism for it.
For causing distress, I sincerely apologize to the government agencies and medical professionals who are working hard because of COVID-19 and to the many people who are following instructions to give up on their lifestyles and are doing all they can to overcome this.
Jaejoong’s Instagram account was also temporarily unavailable.
Jaejoong’s post caused a domino effect that prompted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) to respond regarding a potential punishment for spreading false information.
“We are currently looking into the case regarding Kim Jaejoong,” a KCDC representation said. “It involves the spreading of false information, so we’re discussing how exactly the punishment will be carried out.”
The representative continued, “It’s possible to punish those who are reported for inciting disorder by continually making malicious prank phone calls to the epidemic prevention authorities, however this case is something done by a celebrity on social media, and so it seems more internal discussion is required.”
Star News reports that there is a current Blue House petition asking for Jaejoong to be punished for his tasteless joke. According to Soompi, Star News states “if someone deceives a government employee or institution and therefore disrupts the performance of their duties, they could face a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of a maximum of 10 million won (approximately $8,090). This act is referred to as an ‘obstruction of performance of official duties by fraudulent means.’”
Since the controversy, Jaejoong has canceled various appearances in Japan including NHK Radio’s Furuya Masayuki’s PopA and TV Asahi’s Music Station. In Korea, there are discussions regarding if his show Travel Buddies will be halted.
Unfortunately, this isn’t Jaejoong’s first rodeo with tasteless April Fool’s Day pranks as he pulled pranks involving fake marriage news and fainting on stage. Hopefully, with some reflection, he’ll realize some things aren’t worth the joke.
Photo cr. Channel-Korea
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