Todays’ topic will be about tattoo. Are you visiting South Korea and you would love to have a souvenir tattoo before going back ? Well first let’s begin with a little history, shall we ?
First of all the history of tattoos in South Korea goes back to the 4th century when tattoos were mainly used by fishermen to protect them from evil spirits and bring them good luck. However during the Joseon Dynasty, the meaning of tattoos became much more negative. Therefore during the 19th century, they became commonly associated with crime and felony. Those who committed crimes were marked as criminals with a tattoo. And would be then sentenced to a more severe punishment if they were found guilty of an other crime. For example, someone sentenced for robbery that was not sentenced to death would instead have the word “robber” engraved to his body.
This is why tattoos in Korea had a bad reputation until recently. People with tattoos were seen as criminals, gangsters, scary and violent people that you should not approach.
Nowadays, tattoo does not have a so bad reputation. As a matter of fact, it is even quite the opposite as many young Koreans think of tattoos as a form of individual expression. They don’t associate tattoos with anything negative anymore. Even celebrities are seen covered in tattoos which makes it more and more attractive to young people. Nevertheless some celebrities receive backlash for getting tattoos because it give a bad image: Chaeyoung of Twice and G dragon who are known for having a lot a tattoo are a good example of this “anti celebrity tattoo movement”.
As a matter of fact, tattoos are considered to be a medical service in the country. Therefore only licensed doctors are allowed to perform tattoos. Which is why most tattoo artists in Korea today are not licensed, although you will have a chance to get in touch with them via Instagram.
As more and more people are getting tattoos in Korea, what do you think about the right to get on ? Should tattoo artists also have a license or not ? In any case if you want to get a tattoo in South Korea finding a place should not be too difficult ?
Have a nice day and good luck trying to find a tattoo shop !