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Tattoos in South Korea

Good Morning friends of Speakeasy Tattoo LA!

This is Marlena, coming at you with another edition of our Speakeasy Friday newsletter! I am writing you from the year 2019. The next time we talk, will be in a new decade! Bid farewell to 2019, I hope everyone is setting intentions for the coming new year. For myself and James, we will be starting to tattoo real human people starting the first week of January. We are both in a state of anticipation, though it’s reassuring to know that Scott will be available to help us with anything that comes up while we are first getting started.

In a previous post, I wrote about the culture surrounding tattoos in Japan. Today, I would like to go through a similar history, though slightly different, that is the history of tattoo in South Korea.  The history of tattoos in South Korea, dates back to before the fourth century. At this time, fisherman we’re the main members of society to have tattoos.  They believed that the tattoos would ward off evil spirits and bring them good luck while at sea. It wasn’t until the Goryeo Kingdom period, that South Koreans came to have a negative association with tattoos.

In modern day South Korea, much of the negative association with tattoos, is residual from these older eras. Most of the stigma is related to the association of tattoos with gangs. While nearly 100% of gang members have tattoos, they do not go around displaying their tattoos in public. It is becoming more and more common for young people in South Korea to have tattoos, though it is still impossible to find employment if you have visible tattoos. Similarly many beaches and bath houses still do not allow people with tattoos. Below are some images of my favorite contemporary South Korean tattoo artist, who goes by the name Pitta, you can learn more about his work here

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!


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