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Can you get a tattoo at 16 in South Korea?

Can You Get a Tattoo at 16 in South Korea?

South Korea is a country known for its rich culture, traditions and modernity. One of the most interesting aspects of the South Korean culture is the tattoo art. The tattoo art has been a significant part of the South Korean culture for centuries, and many people, especially young people, are interested in getting tattoos. However, the question on whether you can get a tattoo at 16 in South Korea remains unanswered. In this article, we will explore the topic in detail.

The Legal Age for Tattoos in South Korea

In South Korea, the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18 years old. This means that anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed to get a tattoo. The law was put in place to protect minors from making decisions they may later regret.

The Penalties for Tattoo Artists Who Tattoo Minors

Tattoo artists who tattoo minors in South Korea can face severe penalties. The law states that any person who tattoos a minor can be fined up to 5 million won (approximately $4,500) or face up to one year in prison. The law aims to discourage tattoo artists from tattooing minors and protect them from any harm that may arise from the procedure.

The Importance of Parental Consent

While the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18 years old, there are some exceptions. Minors who wish to get a tattoo can do so with parental consent. However, parental consent alone is not enough; the parent must be present during the procedure to ensure that their child is safe and not being coerced into getting a tattoo.

The Risks Associated with Tattooing Minors

Tattooing minors can be risky, and it is not advisable. Minors are still developing physically and mentally, and their bodies may react differently to the tattooing process. The risks associated with tattooing minors include infections, scarring, allergic reactions, and other complications.

The Importance of Choosing a Reputable Tattoo Artist

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist is crucial, especially when getting a tattoo at a young age. A reputable tattoo artist will prioritize safety and ensure that the procedure is done correctly. They will also advise you on the best placement for your tattoo and provide aftercare instructions to ensure that your tattoo heals correctly.

The Cultural Significance of Tattoos in South Korea

Tattoos have been a part of the South Korean culture for centuries. In ancient times, tattoos were used to mark criminals, slaves, and outcasts. Today, tattoos are seen as a form of self-expression and a way to celebrate individuality. Many young people in South Korea get tattoos to express themselves and show their unique personality.

The Popularity of Tattoos Among Young People in South Korea

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among young people in South Korea. The younger generation is more open-minded and accepting of tattoos than their parents or grandparents were. They see tattoos as a form of self-expression and art rather than something that is taboo or associated with criminals.

The Role of Social Media in the Popularity of Tattoos

Social media has played a significant role in the popularity of tattoos among young people in South Korea. Platforms such as Instagram have made it easier for people to showcase their tattoos and connect with like-minded individuals. Social media has also helped to break down stereotypes surrounding tattoos and expose people to different styles and designs.

The Future of Tattoos in South Korea

The future of tattoos in South Korea is uncertain. While tattoos are becoming more popular, there is still a stigma attached to them. Some employers still frown upon visible tattoos, and there have been cases where people have been denied entry to public baths or swimming pools because of their tattoos. However, as the younger generation becomes more accepting of tattoos, it is likely that the stigma will decrease over time.


In conclusion, getting a tattoo at 16 in South Korea is not legal. The legal age for getting a tattoo in South Korea is 18 years old, and anyone caught tattooing a minor can face severe penalties. However, with parental consent, minors can get tattoos in South Korea. While tattoos are becoming more popular among young people in South Korea, it is important to choose a reputable tattoo artist and be aware of the risks associated with tattooing minors.

Is 16 a minor in Korea?

To be considered an adult in Korea, you must reach the age of 19 (according to international age, not Korean age) on your birthday.

Is 16 and 18 legal in Korea?

In South Korea, people who are 19 years old or younger are not legally allowed to give consent for sexual activity. Engaging in such activity can lead to being charged with statutory rape or a similar offense under local laws.

What are the rules for tattoos in Korea?

In South Korea, only individuals with medical licenses are allowed to operate tattoo parlors, in contrast to those who do not have medical degrees. However, having a tattoo is not considered illegal. The military is the only organization that prohibits tattoos, but individuals can get tattoos after their military service ends.

Can high schoolers in Korea get tattoos?

Although tattoos are not against the law in South Korea and are commonly seen on young people, the act of getting a tattoo is considered illegal according to Korean legislation. This is because it is seen as a medical procedure and can only be performed by a licensed medical professional who is also a qualified tattoo artist.

How old am I in Korea if I’m 16?

This guide for saying your age in Korean was updated in 2023 and provides the Korean translations for ages based on birth year. For example, someone born in 2009 would be considered “15 years old” and referred to as “열다섯 살” in Korean. Similar translations are provided for other birth years.

What grade would a 16 year old be in Korea?

The typical ages for students in high school are 15-19 years old, with 10th grade being for 15-16 year olds, 11th grade for 16-17 year olds, and 12th grade for 17-19 year olds.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of South Korean celebrities getting tattoos. This has helped to further normalize tattoos in the country and make them more mainstream. Many fans of these celebrities have also started getting tattoos to emulate their idols.

However, the increasing popularity of tattoos has also led to concerns about cultural appropriation. Some people feel that non-Koreans getting traditional Korean tattoos is disrespectful and inappropriate. It is important for anyone considering getting a traditional Korean tattoo to do their research and understand the cultural significance behind it.

Despite the challenges and controversies surrounding tattoos in South Korea, the tattoo industry continues to thrive. There are many talented tattoo artists in the country who are pushing boundaries and creating unique and beautiful designs. As more and more people embrace tattoos as a form of self-expression, it is likely that the industry will continue to grow and evolve.

Overall, while getting a tattoo at 16 in South Korea is not legal, there are many opportunities for those who are interested in the art form. Whether you are a young person looking to express your individuality or someone who appreciates the cultural significance of tattoos, there are plenty of reputable tattoo artists and studios to choose from. Just remember to always prioritize safety and make informed decisions when it comes to getting a tattoo.

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