On April 1, Jaejoong posted on his Instagram, saying he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was currently hospitalised. His agency released a statement at the time, saying they were attempting to confirm the news.
Jaejoong later edited his Instagram caption to clarify he didn't have the virus, and instead had used it to raise awareness about the coronavirus. Addressing the joke in his caption, he said:
"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."
Since then, Jaejoong has received criticism from fans and the media for what is being considered a tasteless April Fool's joke about a serious issue. With news that his schedules are being cancelled, he has posted an apology to his Instagram account.
In it, he acknowledges that he did something that shouldn't be done and that he had acted in poor judgement. He wrote:
"The current lack of awareness of response methods and the danger of the virus outbreak. I wanted to convey that message because I hoped that people would be more aware, and therefore we could minimise the number of people who suffer because of COVID-19."
He pointed out people who aren't following the rules to take caution, and he had hoped to bring attention to the issue.
"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 usually and not wearing a mask.When I heard that, I thought there needed to be more awareness..."
Regarding his post, he acknowledged it had not worked in the way he hoped and apologised again.
"My post today... it went very far, but I thought that if people took a lot of interest in 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 apologise 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." (Source)
Jaejoong's upcoming Japanese radio show appearance has been cancelled following the controversy.
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