Getting A Tattoo in South Korea: Booking to Aftercare

Well, you may have heard that the Korean supreme court upheld the decision to make tattooing a medical procedure. If you’re ready to get rebellious and support some artists in light of this decision, get a tattoo in Korea!

Tattooing in South Korea: Acceptance and Culture

Minimalist and colorful tattoos are trending these days. And South Korean tattoo artists are some of the best when it comes to these themes.

Although having a tattoo is still taboo in many ways, most young Koreans are accepting of tattoos. You can see many Koreans flaunt their tattoos in the street. Personally, I am astonished by just how delicate, pretty, and minimalist the average tattoos you see on the street are. Overall, the average person in Korea doesn’t care if you show off your tattoos.

However, not all sectors of society are so accepting. Legally tattoo artists are required to have a medical degree, i.e. be a medical doctor. Of course, most tattoo artists are…well, artists, not doctors.

Although it is rare for tattoo artists to actually be charged for tattooing without a license, it does happen. In fact, this summer one case went all the way to the Korean supreme court. Unfortunately, they decided to uphold the ruling that tattooing is a medical procedure. So, tattoo artists still need a medical license in Korea.

Booking an Appointment

Despite the restrictions, you can still legally get tattooed in Korea. Clients don’t face charges, only the artists. So, if you’re really to support the rebels, here is how you book an appointment with a tattoo artist (tattooist as they call it) in South Korea.

Many tattooists are active on Instagram and you can see their portfolios and works once you visit their profiles. When you decide on a tattoo artist who matches your taste, you can then think of a design idea that you want to be inked. To book an appointment, you can contact them through Kakaotalk (they usually put their Kakaotalk profile in their bio). Most of them can understand English, so don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean.

You can tell them the design you want, and once you come up with an agreement, you can then schedule your visit to their shop.

However, you have to pay a reservation fee of 50,000 won first in order to confirm your appointment. The prices of the tattoo vary depending on size, color, and design.

In my experience, the price ranges from 150,000 to 300,000 won. I got a colored minimalist 5cm tattoo. I asked my other friends and they said that their tattoo prices ranged from 50,000 to 200,000 won, and they got minimalist tiny, cute tattoos in black ink.

After my consultation, I received a draft of my design 2-3 days before the appointment. If there are changes to the design that you want to be made, you may tell them and they will re-do it.

Day of the Tattoo

On the day I got inked, I was told not to drink any alcoholic beverages the day before my scheduled tattoo. Note that it is important to not be late on the day of your appointment. In Korea, most will just cancel your reservation if you are 20 minutes late because they have other customers as well.

If this is your first time getting a tattoo, do not be nervous and try to relax as much as possible during the process. The tattoo process will last from 45 minutes to one hour, or maybe a bit more, depending on the intricate details of the design.

Aftercare

For aftercare, the tattoo artist will tell you what to do or not do. But, in case there are some language barriers, this is what I was told.

I applied Vaseline (Jelly Protectant) 3-6 times a day for three days, and 2 times after until it is fully recovered. I also avoided swimming in salt water and going to public baths for two weeks to avoid infections.

They also said not to apply band-aids to your tattoo because it may take off the color if you have a colored tattoo. Plus, they recommended that if scabs form on the tattoo, to not scratch or take them off. It is normal and it will go away in no time.

Again, do not drink alcohol for 3 to 7 days after.

Congratulations! You can now enjoy and flaunt the art inked on your body. If you want to get more insight into the experience of getting a tattoo in Korea, Click Here to read about one Cambodian student’s experience!

🇵🇭 daru

arts | cafés | nature enthusiast