April Fool’s Day ain’t what it used to be. The era of whoopee cushions and novelty snake nut cans is over, social media and online echo chambers having paved the way for one of post-truth. And, as much as we’d like to think humanity would collectively abandon coronavirus-related pranks in this time of uncertainty, roughly two million people were subject to one in no time at all.
According to the New York Times, K-pop star Jaejoong, a member of the wildly popular group JYG, took to his Instagram on Wednesday with a grim post about having contracted the virus. In it, he said he had been hospitalized and that he was “sorry to those who could have been infected because of me.”
“It was because I lived carelessly, disregarding all of the cautions provided by the government and those around me,” he continued.
It was less than an hour later that he revealed it was less a prank than a way to help raise awareness. “This prank was too much to be considered a simple April Fools’ Day joke, but many people expressed their worry for me during that short period of time,” he said, according to Forbes. “I wanted to tell you that protecting myself is protecting the precious people around us.” He added that he would “accept all punishments that I would get for this post.” And, aside from the wrath of a furious fanbase, there may be some. Per the Times, South Korean authorities are classifying coronavirus-related misinformation as falling under laws on obstruction of official duties and defamation.
Jaejoong’s initial post has since been deleted, while a new one has appeared with a lengthy caption in which the singer frets over the possibility of a second or third coronavirus panic and reflects on his father’s struggle with lung cancer.
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