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K-pop star pranks fans that he has Covid-19, joke backfires

SEOUL: A K-pop star on Wednesday pulled an April Fool's prank announcing that he had contracted coronavirus, and later removed the Instagram post after triggering a backlash.

Kim Jae-joong, a member of boy band JYJ, posted on his Instagram account with 1.9 million followers that he was hospitalised with the virus.

"I have been infected with Covid-19. It is a result of my negligence, disregarding the cautionary words of the government and my friends," he said.

After several hours, the 34-year-old pop idol edited the post to say he had gone too far for April Fool's Day, but thanked his fans who had worried about him.

"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.

He was among the top searches on South Korean portal Naver as debate heated up about whether he was joking or wanted to raise awareness.

A reaction on Twitter read: "What's wrong with Kim Jae-joong? Does he not perceive the seriousness of the situation right now?"

A Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention official said it was not considering any punishment for Kim.

Health authorities had warned of pranks related to the coronavirus. - REUTERS

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