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Are piercings taboo in South Korea?


Piercings have become a popular form of self-expression and fashion statement all over the world. However, in certain cultures, piercings may be seen as taboo or frowned upon. One such culture is South Korea, where traditional values and social norms still hold significant weight. In this article, we will explore the topic of whether or not piercings are taboo in South Korea.

Cultural Background

To understand the cultural perspective on piercings in South Korea, it’s essential to consider the country’s history and cultural values. South Korea is deeply rooted in Confucianism, which places great emphasis on respect for elders, hierarchy, and social order. In this context, anything that deviates from the norm can be viewed as disrespectful or rebellious.

Piercing Trends in South Korea

Despite the cultural background, piercings have become increasingly popular among young people in South Korea. This trend is particularly evident among K-pop idols and celebrities who often flaunt various types of piercings. However, it’s worth noting that these individuals are often seen as exceptions rather than the norm.

The Workplace Perspective

While piercings may be acceptable for younger generations, they may not be as well-received in professional settings. Many companies have strict dress codes that prohibit visible tattoos or piercings. This can make it challenging for individuals with piercings to find jobs or advance their careers.

Traditional Values vs. Modern Trends

The debate around piercings in South Korea reflects a broader tension between traditional values and modern trends. Some argue that piercings are a form of individual expression that should be celebrated, while others believe that they go against the traditional values of respect and social order.

The Gender Factor

Gender also plays a role in the perception of piercings in South Korea. While women’s ear piercings are generally accepted, men’s piercings are often viewed as unconventional or even subversive. This is because men with piercings may be seen as challenging traditional gender roles and norms.

Religious Beliefs

Another factor that may contribute to the taboo around piercings in South Korea is religious beliefs. Some conservative Christians believe that piercings (especially those outside of the earlobes) are a form of body modification that goes against God’s natural design.

The Impact of Western Culture

As South Korea becomes more globalized, Western culture has also influenced attitudes towards piercings. Younger generations may be more accepting of piercings because they see them as a trend that originated from Western fashion.

The Perception of Beauty

The perception of beauty in South Korea is heavily influenced by societal standards and media portrayals. In this context, anything that deviates from these norms can be seen as unattractive or undesirable. This may explain why some people view piercings as taboo or unconventional.

Piercing Regulations

In South Korea, there are no laws or regulations regarding piercings. However, many piercing studios have their own policies and guidelines regarding age restrictions and hygiene standards. This means that getting a piercing in South Korea may be more challenging than in other countries.

The Role of Education

Education can play a crucial role in changing attitudes towards piercings in South Korea. By teaching students about different forms of self-expression and encouraging open-mindedness, educators can help break down cultural barriers and promote acceptance of individual differences.


In conclusion, the question of whether or not piercings are taboo in South Korea is a complex one. While there are certainly cultural and societal factors that may contribute to this perception, attitudes towards piercings are also evolving with changing generations and global influences. Ultimately, the decision to get a piercing is a personal one, and individuals should feel empowered to express themselves in whatever way feels right for them.

Are kpop idols allowed to have piercings?

Nowadays, it is common for K-Pop idols to have at least one piercing, typically on one or both earlobes. Multiple piercings have also become popular among idols, and in recent times, some have even opted for piercings in unconventional locations.

Do BTS members have piercings?

All but one member of the popular K-pop group BTS have piercings, with some having multiple piercings. Members such as Jimin, Jungkook, V, and Jin are among those with piercings. As of April 2022, only one member has yet to get a piercing.

Which BTS member does not have piercings?

Out of all the members of BTS, J-Hope is the only one without any known piercings, and it appears that he has no intention of getting any. In a livestream from 2018, he expressed his fondness for his ears and stated his lack of interest in getting piercings.

Are attached earlobes common in Korea?

In general, an earlobe that is attached (61.2%) is more common than a free earlobe. This type of earlobe was found more often in both males and females (57.0% in males and 65.4% in females), and the percentage was notably higher for females (p = 0.006).

What is the history of piercings in Korea?

Piercing was a common practice in many of the ancient Korean dynasties. During the Silla dynasty, both men and women wore earrings as a form of protection against evil spirits. In the Goryeo dynasty, earrings were worn as a symbol of power.

Are piercings acceptable in Korea?

In South Korea, it is common for people to have ear piercings, with some even having multiple piercings. However, facial piercings are not as socially accepted in Korean society. Generally, attitudes towards piercings beyond the ear in Korea are negative.

However, it’s crucial to understand and respect the cultural norms and values of the country you are in, especially when it comes to professional and formal settings. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid any piercings that may be seen as too unconventional or rebellious.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of more subtle and delicate piercings, such as tiny studs or hoops that are barely noticeable. These types of piercings may be more acceptable in conservative settings and workplaces, while still allowing individuals to express themselves.

It’s also worth noting that attitudes towards piercings can vary depending on the region in South Korea. For example, in more cosmopolitan areas like Seoul, piercings may be more accepted and commonplace than in rural areas.

Ultimately, the perception of piercings in South Korea is a nuanced issue that reflects broader societal values and cultural influences. While some may see piercings as taboo, others view them as a form of self-expression and individuality. As with any cultural difference, it’s essential to approach the topic with an open mind and a willingness to learn and respect different perspectives.

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