K-pop star Kim Jaejoong has apologised for posting on Instagram that he was in hospital having contracted Covid-19, admitting it was an April fool’s joke.
The singer told fans he had caught the virus after “ignoring” government warnings and “living carelessly”.
In a subsequent post, he claimed he had simply wanted to raise awareness of the virus.
But the now-deleted joke appears to have backfired with many of his 1.9m followers voicing their disapproval.
“How can you pull a prank like this when the situation right now is so serious?” one fan responded. “It’s really disappointing.”
South Korea was one of the first countries hit by coronavirus, and it is believed to have killed 165 people there so far.
According to some experts the government’s “rapid, intrusive measures,” including strict quarantine and testing have helped to curb the spread.
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Jaejoong, who is best known as a member of the Korean pop groups JYJ and TVXQ, wrote he wanted to “sincerely apologise” for his offensive post, saying he was simply scared that another wave of the virus could yet hit his country.
“It was not right – I know that,” wrote Jaejoong.
“I just wanted to deliver a message that we should all be aware of the risk to minimise the number of victims.
“I’m so scared that there might come the second, the third corona-panics caused by outdoor activities and contact in closed spaces.”
He added: “So, I think we all need to be alert. I just wanted to tell the people who don’t care about the virus: ‘Please listen up, people. Don’t get sick’.”
The 34-year-old, whose real name is Kim Jae-joong, has a long history of pranking fans.
His previous April fool’s jokes have included pretending to faint during a concert and announcing false marriage plans.