Tattoos have always been a sensitive topic among the Koreans. Compared to other countries, tattoos were never a part of the Korean history. Tattoo parlors often get raided by the police and sometimes they are even forced to be closed down. However, currently, many KPop Idol tattoos are getting rampant in the country. Does this indicate ‘a tolerance of the ink’ from the South Koreans?
More and more artists are seen with tattoos on their body, especially rappers. However, there are some music programs that either blur or ask the artists to cover up during broadcast stages. What could be the reason behind this?
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A Brief History of Tattoos in Korea
Jay Park pic.twitter.com/GICxK8BhEw
— !!PINNED!! (@Kidoltattoos) March 4, 2016
During the Joseon Dynasty, criminals and slaves were branded by government authorities. Those brands signified that they were outcasts. Confucian philosophy was heavily practiced during that era, hence people used to avoid those who wore brands on their skin.
Then, during the 20th century, the crime families began to sport unique tattoos that identify what group or clan they belong to. This practice was most likely adapted from the Japanese Yakuza. This led to the stereotypical thinking that people with tattoos are a part of gang, criminals, or simply untrustworthy.
This belief was strong among the older generation. But with the turn of the century and the amount of prominent people in Korea sporting tattoos, the disgust slowly turned into tolerance.
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KPop Idol Tattoos: Who Has Them?
Most of the KPop idol tattoos seem to be prominent among rappers and hip-hop groups. Three of Block B’s members, Zico, Taeil, and Jaehyo, are seen with tattoos. Zico himself has gone on photo shoots that reveal his multiple tattoos. When the rapper appeared in Radio Star as a guest, he revealed that he wasn’t criticized for his tattoos because several of them were tributes to Korean history.
AOMG founder Jay Park is also famous for his tattoos. He has a series of tattoos that cover his left arm and shoulder and another one at the side of his body. Although heavily criticized for the drawings on his body, Jay Park stood up to the bashers and claimed his tattoos are his “stress relievers”.
There are also several female idols who are seen with tattoos. SISTAR’s main vocalist Hyorin is seen with a large detailed cross on her stomach. Former 4MINUTE rapper Hyuna has a tattoo on her back dedicated to her mother.
Some KPop Idol tattoos are kept discreet by the artists themselves. With more celebrities sporting ink on their bodies, will this help the tolerance for tattoos in South Korea?
Artist: Toni Donaire pic.twitter.com/bCIz8cmCDp
— Tattoos (@Tattoos) December 8, 2016