Update: Ministry Of Health And Welfare Official Discusses Difficulty Of Punishing Kim Jaejoong For Falsely Announcing COVID-19 Diagnosis
Updated April 2 KST:
Senior official Yoon Tae Ho of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters spoke about the case of Kim Jaejoong’s April Fool’s Day lie at a briefing held this day.
Yoon Tae Ho stated, “It appears that [Kim Jaejoong’s lie] was for April Fool’s Day. Legal punishment based on the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act can only occur if one provides false information while epidemiological investigation is underway or during the treatment process. [Kim Jaejoong’s] case does not pertain to either of these. We will have to see if there is a different punishment [that can be applied], but a punishment based on the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act will be difficult.
He added, “The citizens are currently very sensitive due to the COVID-19. Accordingly, we must be careful with our words and what we upload on social media.”
Following criticism against JYJ’s Kim Jaejoong for falsely announcing a diagnosis of COVID-19 on April Fool’s Day, a news outlet has spoken to a representative from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) about what might happen next.
On April 1, Kim Jaejoong stated via Instagram that he tested positive for COVID-19. He later edited his post to say that this was not true, and then posted a letter of apology in which he explained that his intention had been to promote awareness about the severity of the pandemic. A source from the department of the KCDC that is in charge of preventative measures against COVID-19 spoke to the outlet Star News later that day.
“We are currently looking into the case regarding Kim Jaejoong,” they said. “It involves the spreading of false information, so we’re discussing how exactly the punishment will be carried out.”
They explained, “It’s possible to punish those who are reported for inciting disorder by continually making malicious prank phone calls to the epidemic prevention authorities, however this case is something done by a celebrity on social media, and so it seems more internal discussion is required.”
On April 1, Kim Kang Rip, the first chief coordinator at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, stated at a briefing, “April 1 is April Fool’s Day, which originated in the West, however we are currently in a very serious time.” He warned against prank calls by saying, “Our society is not in a place where we can accept prank calls or false information.”
Star News noted that while Kim Jaejoong did not make a prank call, he has been criticized for potentially causing chaos by posting false information on social media as a celebrity with a great deal of influence. A petition has been filed on the presidential Blue House’s website titled “Please punish celebrity Kim for his April Fool’s Day prank.”
The outlet states that according to current law, if someone deceives a government employee or institution and therefore disrupts the performance of their duties, they could face a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of a maximum of 10 million won (approximately $8,090). This act is referred to as an “obstruction of performance of official duties by fraudulent means.”