A coronavirus prank? Seriously?
In Kansas, a man was arrested for “making a terrorist threat" after coughing on an 11-year-old girl and telling her she was gonna get COVID-19.
In Las Vegas, a man was arrested after wandering in a WalMart pretending to have coronavirus symptoms. He said it was a prank. The coronavirus crisis has led to more American deaths than 9/11 and continues to ravage the world and strip families of their loved ones. So why did JYJ's Jaejoong think it was okay to claim to have the virus as an April Fools' Day prank? The answer: He's an idiot who doesn't take this seriously.
Yesterday, the 34-year-old announced on Instagram in a now-deleted post that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Fans around the world mourned the diagnosis, and before the K-pop idol could say "jk," his fake illness was making headlines. His label, C-Jes Entertainment RGC, in Korea even responded to the initial reports and were quickly working to determine his whereabouts in Japan so they could see who he'd interacted with and get those individuals tested.
The star has since issued an apology, which you can read in full English translation below, but we can all agree from the bottom of our hearts that this was a seriously d*ck move.
“I am also personally aware that it was something that shouldn't be done.
First, over the social media post I wrote, I want to express my sincere apologies to the people who have suffered because of COVID-19 and to the people who were disrupted in their administrative work.
Bad judgment. I knew that's what this was.
The current lack of awareness of response methods and the dangerousness of the virus outbreak.
I wanted to convey that message because I hoped that people would be more aware and therefore we could minimize the number of people who suffer because of COVID-19.
It's so scary to think that things like people spending time outside in the warm weather as spring arrives, or coming in contact with others in an enclosed space while making use of leisurely time as the start of the semester is postponed, could cause a secondary or tertiary resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
My father also recently had lung cancer surgery and he went to the hospital often.
When I saw the medical staff and patients at the hospital, I felt a bit angry and I wished that people thought of the virus as not someone else's problem, but their own problem.
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 usual and not wearing a mask. When I heard that, I thought there needed to be more awareness.
In many different kinds of media and on the internet, there are both big and small requests for people to take caution, but there are people who do not listen to that, and I wanted to convey the dangerousness of the current situation to them one way or another. "Please, listen. Please. Don't get sick."
There are also confirmed cases among the people I know. This made me feel certain that this is not something that is happening far away, and it made me more scared.
Self-reflecting after losing someone is no help at all.
It's frustrating and hard but I want to try a bit harder than now and get through this difficult time together. My post today… it went very far, but I thought that if people paid a large amount of interest to 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 apologize 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.“
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"Rape culture kills."
South Korea has long held one of the highest suicide rates in the world (10th, according to the World Health Organization), a fact that's painfully resonated this year with the suicides of two popular K-Pop stars: first 25-year-old Sulli and now 28-year-old Goo Hara.
After Sulli was found dead in her home last month, public outpouring of grief included fellow K-Pop idols and the singer's famous friends, such as Goo, a former member of the girl group Kara. She described their friendship as being "like sisters"; in a livestream, she vowed, "I will live twice more diligently now that you are gone," adding, "Dear fans, I will be fine. Don't worry about me." But six weeks later, Goo was found dead in her own Seoul home, with police calling it a suicide and reporting that they'd found a handwritten note expressing her overwhelming depression.
While the world of K-Pop has been rife with scandal, from its factory-like production of girl groups and boy bands to its disregard for young idols' mental health, Goo's tortured last years also highlighted the pervasive effects of rape culture within K-Pop. As writer and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein pointed out on Twitter, "Rape culture kills," pointing out the negligence and egregious mishandling of Goo's highly publicized dispute with her abusive ex-boyfriend, Choi Jong-bum. Choi not only attempted to blackmail the singer but physically and (allegedly) sexually assaulted her. "It is known that she attempted to commit suicide in March this year after an ex-boyfriend attempted to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release a sex video," NBC News reports. "Amid the dispute, Goo's agency terminated her contract."
Rape culture kills. “But it is known that she attempted to commit suicide in March this year after an ex-boyfriend… https://t.co/gYI8cIVpTL— 🙅🏽♀️ Chanda Prescod-Weinstein 🙅🏽♀️ (@🙅🏽♀️ Chanda Prescod-Weinstein 🙅🏽♀️)1574609710.0
Details of the assault include Choi drunkenly attacking Goo while she was sleeping, prompting the singer to physically fight back against Choi's screaming assault. He was reportedly displeased with the resulting marks to his face and threatened to release footage of the two of them having sex in order to "make it impossible for her to pursue an entertainment career." Over the course of multiple trials, Choi was found guilty of "filming body parts without consent, assault causing bodily harm, intimidation (blackmail), coercion, and destruction and damage of property." He was not found guilty of sexual assault. Disturbing excerpts from the court documents include: "During the breakup process with his lover, Mr. Choi caused injuries to the victim as well as receiving injuries on his own face. He was angry about this and threatened to contact a media outlet to end the victim's career. By making her kneel and other such behavior, he caused serious suffering to the female celebrity victim."
Instead of the prosecutors' requested 3-year prison sentence, the Seoul Central District Court granted Choi a suspended sentence of three years of probation. If he violates said probation, then he'll receive his full sentence of one year and six months in prison. The prosecution was quick to condemn the court's leniency. On September 5, they appealed to demand a harsher sentence, stating, "Society needs tougher punishments in order to eradicate the kind of criminal behavior that Choi Jong Bum committed. We hope that during the appeals trial, the defendant will be appropriately sentenced according to the weight of his crime."
But it's worse than just leniency for a blackmailer; it's a testament to the misogyny that Korean women, even K-Pop idols, face in the public eye. Throughout the trial, Goo faced significant backlash in the press and online hate. In June, she took to Instagram (in a since deleted post) to say, "I won't be lenient on these vicious commentaries any more." She wrote about her struggles with "mental health" and "depression" and plainly asked people to stop leaving hateful comments. "Is there no one out there with a beautiful mind who can embrace people who suffer?" she posted. "Public entertainers like myself don't have it easy — we have our private lives more scrutinized than anyone else and we suffer the kind of pain we cannot even discuss with our family and friends. Can you please ask yourself what kind of person you are before you post a vicious comment online?" In her final Instagram post, she captioned a selfie of herself lying in bed with "sleep tight."
As Bloomberg reporter Jihye Lee critiqued, "Korean women find it more and more difficult to report crimes as victims because they see female artists facing even greater backlashes & trauma because how the public, police and the justice system respond to sexual assault, and that sends a clear message to all women in Korea."
Top trending on Korea Twitter is #최종범_처벌 or “Punish Choi Jong-bum,” who is Goo Hara’s ex-boyfriend that she is sui… https://t.co/qvHNHZEW8w— Jihye Lee 이지혜 (@Jihye Lee 이지혜)1574604527.0
Korean women find it more and more difficult to report crimes as victims because they see female artists facing eve… https://t.co/X8IFvgbOMC— Jihye Lee 이지혜 (@Jihye Lee 이지혜)1574605329.0
Now, Goo's death has fans petitioning for greater awareness and more responsible action in response to sexual assault, as well as mental health concerns. On Twitter, fans are channeling their grief into calls to bring Choi to justice and face a stricter sentence. Trending topics in South Korea are filled with remembrances of Goo Hara and even Sulli, while an online petition addressed to President Moon Jae-in has gained over 220,000 signatures, all demanding that sexual harassment receives a harsher punishment in Korean law.
I’m not living in a society where an abuser, a black mailer, a bully... a criminal will walk free when the person h… https://t.co/dVBRjX0Zie— MJ (@MJ)1574603107.0
The fact that men can abuse women and get away with it makes me sick, and that women are slut shamed to taking thei… https://t.co/SiA8dIGneb— Cherry 🌸 (@Cherry 🌸)1574612030.0
While Goo's death has inspired a long-overdue conversation about the oppressive misogyny that keeps too many Korean women from reporting assault, a small memorial sits at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul where Goo's body rests.
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Can't get enough K-Pop? Check out these shows.
Most K-Pop stars have carefully curated social media to give fans glimpses into their personal lives, but for some fans those little glimpses will never be enough.
Luckily, you don't need to resort to desperate measures to feel a little closer to your favorite idols. Korean entertainment is a world of endless crossovers, so you can get your fix of idol goodness in a few different ways.
As anyone who's seen Jack Black's appearance on Infinite Challenge can tell you, Korean variety shows are crazy. We don't really have an equivalent in the U.S., but if you imagine a group of celebrities spending a whole day doing wacky Ellen/Jimmy Fallon games, you should get the idea. While Infinite Challenge is no longer running, it aired from 2005-2018 and regularly featured K-pop idols, along with actors, comedians, and athletes. With that many seasons, they've had a huge number of K-pop guests participating in the craziness, like T.O.P from Big Bang doing a ridiculous dance battle.
A similar show that's still airing is called Running Man, where you get to see members of BTS getting piggyback rides. The show also regularly features members of Bigbang, Blackpink, 2PM, CNBlue, and Miss A. With all the crazy antics that go on in these shows, you get to see more of the silly side of your favorite idols. Another variety show, Village Survival The Eight, has featured Jennie from Blackpink working with other celebrities to solve a fictional mystery. Along with the clips on YouTube, full episodes of these shows can be viewed for free on Rakuten Viki.
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