Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Think before you ink in Korea?

If you are thinking about getting inked in Korea, you might want to think twice unless you want to land your tattoo artist in jail. I have often heard that tattooing is illegal in Korea, but I didn’t know that if a tattoo artist was caught they could face life imprisonment.

“At 1 p.m. on June 22, a street art performance was underway in a Seoul park, where tattoo artist Lee Rang, 30, was putting the word “revolution” and a peace symbol on the back of 26-year-old cook Byeon Gyu-du. Passers-by stopped and watched the tattooing operation with interest, but 10 minutes after it started, police suddenly rushed up to intervene.

“Don’t you know it is illegal to do this?” asked one of the police officers. Lee was taken to a nearby police station and charged with violations of medical laws, which regard tattooing as a kind of medical activity.

Now here comes the scary part:

“If proven to have been carried out for profit, a tattoo operation turns into a violation of public health laws rather than just medical laws, which means it could possibly result in life imprisonment for the tattoo artist. In Korea, drawing a tattoo on others is illegal, whether for profit or for free.”

Gee, don’t you think that is a little stiff for some ink?

Sure, there are tattoo shops in Korea, especially around some of the military bases, but I guess some people would tend to look the other way if the tattoos are intended for military personnel.

(pic and text borrowed from The Hankyoreh)

1 Comment

  1. Jeez!


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