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Are you allowed to show tattoos in Korea?


In this article, we will discuss the topic of showing tattoos in Korea. Tattoos have been a part of Korean culture for centuries, but there is still some controversy surrounding them. In recent years, there has been a shift towards accepting tattoos in Korea, but there are still some cultural and social norms that should be considered. This article will explore the history and cultural significance of tattoos in Korea, as well as the current laws and attitudes towards them.

History of tattoos in Korea

Tattoos have a long history in Korea, dating back to the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC – 668 AD). Tattoos were used to mark criminals and slaves, but they were also used for decorative purposes among aristocrats. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), tattoos became associated with criminality and were banned by law. However, some people continued to get tattoos in secret.

Cultural significance of tattoos in Korea

In modern times, tattoos have become more mainstream in Korea. However, there is still some stigma associated with them. Traditional Korean culture values modesty and conformity, which can make having visible tattoos challenging. Tattoos are also associated with gang culture in Korea, which can make people hesitant to show them.

Current laws on showing tattoos in Korea

There are no laws against getting a tattoo in Korea, but it is technically illegal for anyone who is not a licensed medical professional to perform tattooing. However, this law is rarely enforced, and there are many tattoo parlors throughout Korea. It is also legal to show tattoos in public, but some establishments may have their own rules against visible tattoos.

Social attitudes towards tattoos in Korea

While tattoos are becoming more accepted in Korea, there are still some negative attitudes towards them. Many Koreans associate tattoos with gang culture, which can lead to discrimination or judgement towards people with tattoos. However, younger generations are more likely to view tattoos as a form of self-expression and are more accepting of them.

Showcasing tattoos in the workplace

In Korea, it is common for people to cover their tattoos in the workplace. This is because tattoos may be seen as unprofessional or distracting. However, some industries (such as entertainment) may be more accepting of visible tattoos.

Visiting public spaces with tattoos

While it is legal to show tattoos in public, it is important to be respectful of cultural norms. In some traditional Korean spaces (such as temples), it may be considered disrespectful to show tattoos. It is important to research any cultural customs before visiting a public space with visible tattoos.

Tattoo removal in Korea

If you have a tattoo that you would like to remove in Korea, there are several options available. Laser tattoo removal is the most popular method, but it can be expensive and may require multiple sessions. There are also some topical creams and ointments that can help fade tattoos over time.

Tattoo culture in Korea

Despite some negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea, there is still a vibrant tattoo culture in the country. Many Korean tattoo artists have gained international recognition for their unique styles and techniques. There are also several tattoo conventions held throughout the year in Korea.

International attitudes towards Korean tattoos

Korean tattoos have become increasingly popular around the world, with many people seeking out Korean-style designs or visiting Korean tattoo artists. However, it is important to be mindful of cultural appropriation and understand the significance of certain designs before getting them tattooed.


In conclusion, showing tattoos in Korea is becoming more accepted, but there are still some cultural and social norms to consider. It is important to be respectful of cultural customs and understand the significance of tattoos in Korean culture. While there are no laws against showing tattoos in public, it is still common for people to cover them in certain settings. Overall, tattoos can be a form of self-expression and creativity, but it is important to understand the cultural context surrounding them.

Is it illegal to show tattoos on TV in Korea?

Tattoos aren’t allowed to be shown on television in Korea, so many pop stars cover their tattoos while they are performing. There are also many people who follow Korean Confucianism and believe that our body is handed down to us by our parents.Feb 3, 2022

Do Korean schools allow tattoos?

It can be difficult to navigate the cultural norms in Korea, which, similar to Japan, is a society that values conservatism. Schools in Korea have strict standards for personal appearance, with one of the most important rules being that tattoos must not be visible (although they may be acceptable if they can be covered by a long-sleeved shirt).

Can Korean girls get tattoos?

Despite its illegality in South Korea, some courageous women still choose to get tattoos for the sake of art. While having a tattoo is not illegal in the country, the act of tattooing itself is against the law.

Can US military get tattoos in Korea?

It is not encouraged for North American servicemembers to get tattoos, as it can be seen as endangering a valuable resource for the US military. While most tattoo parlors are clean and well-managed, there are some exceptions that can pose a risk.

Are kpop idols allowed to show tattoos?

Performers in South Korea are required to conceal their tattoos with clothing or flesh-colored patches during performances due to the country’s strict laws regarding tattoos, which are considered illegal except when done by licensed medical professionals.

Why doesn t Korea allow tattoos?

Tattoos, known as munshin in South Korea, have had a negative reputation for centuries. In the Koryo dynasty from 918 to 1392 A.D., tattoos were used as a form of punishment and identification for criminals or slaves, sometimes forcibly given on the face or arms.

Furthermore, tattoo artists in Korea often face unique challenges due to the negative associations with tattoos in Korean culture. Many tattoo parlors are located in discreet or hidden areas, and some artists may choose to keep their profession private to avoid discrimination or judgement.

In recent years, there have been efforts to change the negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea. Some celebrities and public figures have openly displayed their tattoos, and there have been campaigns to promote more positive perceptions of tattoos. Additionally, some businesses are becoming more accepting of visible tattoos, especially in the creative industries.

It is also important to note that the younger generations in Korea are leading the way in changing attitudes towards tattoos. Many younger Koreans view tattoos as a form of self-expression and individuality, and they are more likely to have visible tattoos or be accepting of others who do.

Overall, while there may still be some stigma attached to tattoos in Korea, there is a growing acceptance and appreciation for them as a form of art and self-expression. As with any cultural practice, it is important to approach tattoos with respect and understanding of their significance in Korean culture.

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