A K-Pop star has sparked outrage with an April Fools' Day prank saying he had caught coronavirus and was in hospital.
Kim Jae-joong, a member of boyband JYJ, posted on his Instagram account with 1.9 million followers: ”I have been infected with COVID-19. It is a result of my negligence, disregarding the cautionary words of the government and my friends.”
After several hours, the 34-year-old Asian pop idol edited the post in an attempt to spin his joke an attempt to raise awareness, while apologizing to his fans.
“I don't think of this as an April Fool's prank...I wanted to tell you that protecting yourself is protecting the precious people around you,” Kim said.
Korea has been largely successful in containing the outbreak with the number infected on Wednesday climbing by 101 to 9,887, with another eight deaths, taking the total to 169.
Health authorities had earlier warned of any pranks related to the coronavirus.
Kim Jae-joong's inflammatory post was hotly debated among fans online over whether he had been joking or whether he had been trying to raise awareness.
A KCDC official told Reuters that it was not considering any punishment for Kim.
Calls to Kim's music label C-Jes Entertainment Corp seeking comment went unanswered.
Under South Korean law, those convicted of deceiving or deluding state officials or state agencies may be jailed for up to five years or face up to 10 million won ($8,124.14) in fines.
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