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Is tattoo ban in Korean?


Tattoos have been a part of human culture for centuries, with people using them to express themselves, commemorate important events, or simply as a form of art. However, some countries have strict regulations around tattoos, and in some cases, they are even banned. One such country is South Korea, where tattoos are still considered taboo in many circles.

The history of tattooing in Korea

Tattooing in Korea has a long and complicated history. While tattoos were once used to mark criminals or slaves, they also had cultural significance for some indigenous groups. However, during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), tattoos were officially banned, and this attitude has persisted to this day.

Why are tattoos banned in Korea?

There are several reasons why tattoos are banned in Korea. One of the main reasons is that they are associated with organized crime and gang culture. This negative association has led many Koreans to view tattoos as a symbol of criminality and social deviance.

The legal status of tattoos in Korea

While tattoos themselves are not illegal in Korea, the act of tattooing is. This means that anyone caught tattooing someone else could face fines or even imprisonment. Despite this, many tattoo artists continue to operate underground or in private studios.

The social stigma surrounding tattoos

In addition to the legal restrictions on tattooing, there is also a significant social stigma attached to having tattoos in Korea. Many employers will not hire people with visible tattoos, and those who do have them may face discrimination or ostracization within their communities.

Tattoos and the military

In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to complete two years of military service. However, those with visible tattoos may be disqualified from serving, as tattoos are seen as a sign of rebelliousness and potential troublemaking.

The rise of tattoo culture in Korea

Despite the ban and stigma surrounding tattoos in Korea, there has been a recent surge in interest in tattoo culture among young people. Some see it as a way to rebel against societal norms, while others simply appreciate the art form.

Attempts to lift the ban

In recent years, there have been attempts to lift the ban on tattooing in Korea. In 2016, a court ruled that banning tattooing was unconstitutional, but this decision was later overturned on appeal. There are still ongoing efforts to challenge the ban and change public attitudes towards tattoos.

Tattoos and tourism

One potential consequence of the tattoo ban in Korea is that it may deter tourists who are interested in getting tattoos or exploring tattoo culture. Countries such as Japan, where tattooing is legal, have seen a rise in “tattoo tourism” as a result.

The future of tattoos in Korea

It remains to be seen what the future holds for tattoos in Korea. While attitudes towards them are slowly changing, there is still a long way to go before they are fully accepted. However, with more and more young people embracing the art form, there is hope that things may eventually change.


The tattoo ban in Korea is a complex issue that reflects broader cultural attitudes towards body modification and self-expression. While there are many reasons why tattoos are still taboo in Korea, there are also signs that attitudes may be shifting. Whether or not the ban will be lifted remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: tattoos will continue to be a controversial topic in Korean society for years to come.

Is it OK to show tattoos in Korea?

Although it is against the law for non-medical professionals to perform tattoos, it is not illegal to display them publicly. Therefore, Kim argues that it is unreasonable to require individuals to cover up their tattoos in shared facilities just because others may find them unappealing. In South Korea, the only individuals authorized to perform tattooing are medical doctors.

Why tattoos are not allowed in Korean shows?

The blurring of tattoos on South Korean TV is connected to what is considered violent or socially unacceptable. In South Korea, tattoos are associated with gangs and are not culturally accepted. Therefore, they are censored on TV, similar to how other violent content is censored in different countries.

Can foreigners get tattoos in Korea?

Even with restrictions in place, it is still possible to get a tattoo in Korea without facing legal charges. Only the artists are at risk. If you want to support the underground tattoo community, you can book an appointment with a tattooist in South Korea by following certain steps, such as painting squares.

Do Korean schools allow tattoos?

This may be difficult to understand. Like Japan, Korea’s society is very traditional, and schools have strict rules regarding personal appearance. The most important rule is no visible tattoos, although they can be covered by a long-sleeved shirt. This is valid as of January 10, 2023.

Are K pop idols allowed to have tattoos?

Performers in South Korea are required to cover up any tattoos or body art during their performances using clothing or flesh-colored patches. This is likely due to the cultural belief that tattoos are illegal, except when performed by medical professionals.

Can Korean girls get tattoos?

In South Korea, tattooing is against the law, but some women still choose to get tattoos despite the safety risks involved. While it is not illegal to have a tattoo, it is illegal to work as a professional tattoo artist in the country.

The impact of social media

Social media has played a significant role in changing attitudes towards tattoos in Korea. Platforms like Instagram have allowed young people to share their tattoo art and connect with others who appreciate the art form. Some Korean celebrities have also started showing off their tattoos on social media, helping to normalize them in the public eye.

The role of education

Another way to change attitudes towards tattoos in Korea is through education. By educating people about the history and cultural significance of tattoos, as well as dispelling myths about them being associated with criminality, it may be possible to change public perceptions. This could include incorporating information about tattoos into school curriculums or hosting public events and exhibitions.

The potential benefits of legalizing tattooing

Legalizing tattooing in Korea could have a number of benefits. It would allow for safer and more hygienic tattoo practices, as well as provide opportunities for tattoo artists to work legally and pay taxes. It could also help to reduce the negative associations with tattoos by making them more mainstream and accepted.

The importance of respecting cultural differences

While it’s important to challenge negative attitudes towards tattoos in Korea, it’s also important to respect cultural differences and understand that what is considered taboo in one culture may be perfectly acceptable in another. As such, efforts to change attitudes towards tattoos should be done sensitively and with an understanding of Korean culture and history.

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