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Can foreigners get tattoos in Korea?


In recent years, Korea has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. With its unique culture, delicious food, and modern cities, it’s no wonder that more and more people are visiting every year. One aspect of Korean culture that has attracted many foreigners is the art of tattooing. However, there has been some confusion surrounding whether or not foreigners are allowed to get tattoos in Korea. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and answer some of the most common questions surrounding it.

The history of tattoos in Korea

Tattoos have a long and complicated history in Korea. In the past, tattoos were associated with criminals and were seen as a sign of rebellion. However, in recent years, tattoos have become more mainstream and are often seen as a form of self-expression. Despite this shift in perception, there are still some negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea.

The legal status of tattoos in Korea

While there is no law in Korea that explicitly prohibits foreigners from getting tattoos, there are some restrictions on who can perform them. Under Korean law, only licensed medical professionals are allowed to administer tattoos. This means that if you want to get a tattoo in Korea, you will need to find a licensed tattoo artist.

Where can you get a tattoo in Korea?

There are many tattoo shops in Korea, but not all of them are licensed. It’s important to do your research before getting a tattoo to ensure that you’re going to a reputable establishment. Some of the most popular places to get a tattoo in Korea include Hongdae, Gangnam, and Itaewon.

The process of getting a tattoo in Korea

The process of getting a tattoo in Korea is similar to getting one anywhere else. You will need to find an artist that you like, discuss your design ideas with them, and then schedule an appointment. On the day of your appointment, you will need to sign a waiver and pay for your tattoo before the artist begins.

The cost of getting a tattoo in Korea

The cost of getting a tattoo in Korea varies depending on the size and complexity of the design. On average, you can expect to pay around 100,000 to 300,000 KRW for a small to medium-sized tattoo. Larger tattoos can cost upwards of 1 million KRW or more.

Tattoo etiquette in Korea

While tattoos are becoming more accepted in Korea, there are still some cultural norms that should be observed. For example, it’s considered rude to show your tattoos in public, especially in traditional settings like temples or on public transportation. It’s also important to be respectful of others who may not share your views on tattoos.

The risks associated with getting a tattoo in Korea

As with any form of body modification, there are risks associated with getting a tattoo. These risks include infection, allergic reactions, and scarring. To minimize these risks, it’s important to choose a reputable artist and follow all aftercare instructions.

Tattoo removal in Korea

If you decide that you no longer want your tattoo, there are options for removal in Korea. Some of the most common methods include laser removal and surgical excision. However, these methods can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance.


In conclusion, foreigners are allowed to get tattoos in Korea as long as they go to a licensed professional. While there are still some negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea, they are becoming more accepted as a form of self-expression. If you’re considering getting a tattoo in Korea, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable artist to minimize the risks associated with the procedure.

Is it OK to have tattoos in South Korea?

In South Korea, only medical professionals with licenses are allowed to operate tattoo parlors, while individuals without a medical degree cannot. Possessing a tattoo is not against the law, except in the case of military members, who are prohibited from having them. After completing their military service, individuals can choose to have tattoos.

How much does it cost to get a tattoo in Korea?

In South Korea, tattoo parlors usually have a minimum price and charge based on the amount of time it takes to complete the tattoo, regardless of its size. A small design can cost around 20,000 krw ($16.95), while large images can cost over 1,000,000 krw ($850). These prices may vary.

Is getting a tattoo in Korea expensive?

The prices of the tattoo vary depending on size, color, and design. In my experience, the price ranges from 150,000 to 300,000 won.

Can Korean girls get tattoos?

Even though tattooing is prohibited in South Korea, courageous women choose to express their artistic side through this medium, despite the potential risks involved. While having tattoos is not illegal in the country, practicing as a tattoo artist is against the law.

Can Americans get tattoos in Korea?

While tattoos themselves are not prohibited in South Korea, it is against the law to get one as it is classified as a medical procedure and can only be performed by a licensed medical professional. Despite this, many young people in the country can still be seen with tattoos.

How do Koreans view tattoos?

Tattoos were once seen as a form of mutilation or as marks of punishment or ownership. During the Japanese occupation, Korean gangs began using tattoos to identify themselves, adopting the style of the yakuza. For older Koreans, it can be challenging to separate these historical and cultural associations from the present-day perception of tattoos.

It’s also important to note that some employers in Korea may have strict policies regarding visible tattoos in the workplace. This is especially true for more conservative industries such as finance or education. If you have a visible tattoo, it’s a good idea to check with your employer or potential employer to see if it will be an issue.

Another thing to consider when getting a tattoo in Korea is the language barrier. Some tattoo artists may not speak English fluently, which can make communication difficult. It’s a good idea to bring a translator or have a clear idea of what you want before going to the tattoo shop.

While there may still be some negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea, the younger generation is becoming more accepting of body art. In fact, many Korean celebrities and influencers have tattoos and are helping to break down stigma surrounding them. As more and more people get tattoos in Korea, it’s possible that attitudes will continue to shift towards acceptance.

Overall, getting a tattoo in Korea can be a unique and rewarding experience for foreigners. Whether you’re looking for traditional Korean designs or something more modern, there are plenty of talented artists to choose from. Just remember to do your research, choose a reputable artist, and be respectful of cultural norms while enjoying your new body art.

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