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How do Koreans feel about tattoos?


Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years, but they are not universally accepted. In South Korea, tattoos are still somewhat taboo, and there is a lot of stigma surrounding them. This article will explore how Koreans feel about tattoos, what the cultural and historical context is, and what the current state of affairs is.

History of Tattoos in Korea

Tattoos have a long history in Korea, dating back to the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE-668 CE). Back then, tattoos were used to indicate social status, and the practice was mostly limited to the aristocracy. However, over time tattoos became associated with criminals and outcasts, and they fell out of favor.

Tattoos in Modern Korean Society

Today, tattoos are still associated with criminality and rebellion in Korea. This is partly due to the influence of Japanese yakuza culture, which has a strong association with tattoos. However, there are also Korean gangs that use tattoos as a way to identify themselves. As a result, many Koreans still view tattoos as a sign of deviance.

The Role of Confucianism

Confucianism has had a major influence on Korean culture for centuries. One of its core values is respect for authority and tradition. Tattoos are seen as a violation of this value because they are non-traditional and often associated with rebellion. Additionally, Confucianism places a high value on physical purity, which is another reason why tattoos are frowned upon.

Changing Attitudes Toward Tattoos

Despite the stigma surrounding tattoos in Korea, attitudes are slowly starting to change. Younger generations are more accepting of tattoos than their parents and grandparents. Additionally, some celebrities and public figures have started to showcase their tattoos publicly, which has helped to chip away at the negative stereotypes.

Tattoo Laws in Korea

Technically, there are no laws against getting a tattoo in Korea. However, there are laws against tattooing. This means that people who want a tattoo have to go to underground tattoo parlors, which are unregulated and can be dangerous. The government has been cracking down on these illegal parlors in recent years, which has made it more difficult for people to get tattoos.

Public Perception of Tattoos

Despite the changing attitudes toward tattoos, they are still largely seen as taboo in Korea. Many people who have tattoos keep them hidden from public view, especially in professional settings. This is because tattoos can still be seen as a liability when it comes to getting a job or advancing in one’s career.

Religious Views on Tattoos

Korea is home to several major religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Confucianism. Each of these religions has its own views on tattoos. Buddhists generally don’t have a problem with tattoos, while Christians often view them as sinful. Confucianism is opposed to tattoos because of their association with rebellion and impurity.

Tattoos and Gender

Tattoos are often seen as more acceptable for men than for women in Korea. This is partly due to the fact that many Korean gangsters have tattoos, which has given them a masculine association. Additionally, women are expected to conform to certain beauty standards, and tattoos can be seen as detracting from their femininity.

Alternative Forms of Self-Expression

Because of the stigma surrounding tattoos, some Koreans have turned to alternative forms of self-expression. This includes piercings, hair dye, and clothing choices. These forms of expression are still somewhat unconventional in Korea but are generally more accepted than tattoos.

The Future of Tattoos in Korea

It’s hard to say what the future of tattoos in Korea will be. On one hand, attitudes are slowly starting to change, and tattoos are becoming more popular among younger generations. On the other hand, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding tattoos, and the government is cracking down on illegal tattoo parlors.


Tattoos have a complicated history in Korea, and they are still seen as taboo by many. However, attitudes are starting to change, and tattoos are becoming more accepted among younger generations. As with many things in Korean culture, the issue of tattoos is deeply tied to tradition and values. As these values continue to evolve, it’s possible that attitudes toward tattoos will follow suit.

Can you show tattoos in Korea?

Although it is illegal for nonmedical professionals to perform tattoos, there is no law against displaying them in public. This was stated on October 25th, 2022.

Are tattoos popular in Korea?

Tattoos are still considered a significant cultural taboo in South Korea, and the country remains the only developed nation where tattooing is illegal except for medical professionals. This law is still in effect as of October 23, 2021.

Why do Korean shows blur out tattoos?

In South Korean television, censorship is based on what is deemed violent or socially unacceptable. For instance, tattoos are associated with gangs and are not widely accepted, so they are blurred out like other violent content. Knives are also subject to censorship in a similar manner in other countries.

Can Americans get tattoos in Korea?

While it is not illegal to have tattoos in South Korea and many young people proudly display their ink, getting a tattoo is actually against the law. According to Korean law, tattoos are classified as a medical service and can only be performed by a qualified medical practitioner.

Can foreigners get tattoos in Korea?

Even with restrictions, it is still possible to get a tattoo in Korea without facing legal charges, only the tattoo artist may face consequences. If you want to show support for tattoo artists in South Korea, here is how you can book an appointment with a tattooist, also known as a tattoo artist, through painting squares.

Why do Korean celebrities cover their tattoos?

To comply with South Korea’s strict laws regarding tattoos, performers are required to cover up any visible body art with clothing or flesh-colored patches. In South Korea, tattoos are generally considered illegal unless performed by a licensed medical professional.

Despite the legal and social challenges of getting a tattoo in Korea, there is still a thriving underground tattoo scene. Many tattoo artists operate out of private studios or even their own homes to avoid detection by the authorities. These artists often have a strong following among younger Koreans who are drawn to the rebellious nature of tattoos.

In recent years, some Korean tattoo artists have gained international recognition for their unique designs and techniques. This has helped to raise the profile of tattooing as an art form and may contribute to changing attitudes toward tattoos in Korea.

It’s worth noting that tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among tourists visiting Korea. Many visitors see getting a tattoo as a way to commemorate their trip or as a symbol of their love for Korean culture. However, tourists should be aware of the legal and cultural issues surrounding tattoos in Korea before deciding to get one.

Ultimately, the future of tattoos in Korea will depend on a variety of factors, including changes in cultural values, government regulations, and social norms. While it’s unlikely that tattoos will ever become completely mainstream in Korea, it’s possible that they will become more accepted and less stigmatized over time.

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