Tattoo based mostly on an illustration by artist Willian Santiago (Courtesy of tattooist, Doy)
Whereas tattoos are a part of a subculture on this conservative nation, the artwork type has progressively gained mainstream consideration in recent times as softer and extra delicate designs started showing on the scene. These designs are breaking preconceptions about tattoos supposedly celebrating violence.
A Korean-language seek for “sentimental design” brings up plenty of tattoo photos on social media, together with practically 800,000 on Instagram.
Tattoo based mostly on household photographs (Courtesy of tattooist, Howdy)
“A few of them journey all the way in which to Seoul simply to get tattoo providers or cease by our parlor whereas touring in Korea,” mentioned Kim, who studied Western portray in school and opened his enterprise 4 years in the past. “The so-called sentimental tattoos have been in vogue for a few years among the many youthful era in Korea and are thought-about fairly distinctive amongst foreigners.”
Kim mentioned tattoos based mostly on household photographs are standard amongst clients from dwelling and overseas. Some clients desire a everlasting reminder on their pores and skin to honor a beloved pet.
Poodle tattoo (Courtesy of tattooist, Vitchin)
Although tattoos are rising extra standard, Korea is among the few international locations that ban tattoo providers except they’re carried out by medical practitioners. In 1992 the Supreme Courtroom dominated that tattooing is a medical process — successfully criminalizing nearly all of tattooists.
Many tattooists say the legislation is outdated. In Korea, tattooists with no medical background usually work at dermatology and cosmetic surgery clinics, the place semipermanent eyebrow and eyeliner tattoos are broadly sought out.
“Tattoo has turn into a popular culture in Korea, and the so-called sentimental tattoo is on the middle of it. We’ve got put in efforts for years to revise the legislation to categorise tattoo as an act of artwork reasonably than medical apply,” mentioned Lee Eun-kyung, vice chairman of the Korea Tattoo Affiliation.
She added that at the least 20,000 folks in Korea labored within the tattoo business as of early 2020, and the tattoo market is estimated to be value round 2 trillion gained ($1.68 billion), based on the affiliation’s information.
Flower tattoo (Courtesy of tattooist, Lee Yoon-seo)
“It appears the ‘Korean tattoo,’ which can be known as the ‘sentimental tattoo,’ has turn into a brand new style globally,” she mentioned. “They have been actually shocked to listen to that tattoos are unlawful in Korea except the tattooists have a medical license.”
Doy, who has been within the subject for 13 years and launched Korea’s first labor union for tattooists in February, says a tattooist’s work is nearer to artwork than medical apply because it requires an aesthetic sense for drawing and coloring.
“Tattooists from the youthful era chortle at the truth that working as a tattooist is against the law and requires a medical license,” he mentioned. “Many Korean tattooists are acknowledged overseas, and a few of them are working at main tattoo outlets and dealing with Hollywood stars with their aesthetic sense and deft abilities appreciated.”
Kim Se-young, a professor on the Christian Faculty of Nursing, mentioned there ought to be a extra lively dialogue on whether or not to legalize the providers of tattoo artists, in addition to discussions with medical doctors, as tattoos are gaining popularity in Korea.
“We must always not neglect the rising tradition of tattoos, in any other case issues comparable to uncomfortable side effects, hygiene and security can come up,” Kim mentioned.
By Park Yuna ([email protected])