Have you considered getting a tattoo while staying in Korea? You may have heard tattoo artists need a medical license, or that tattooing is illegal in Korea. However, whatever the law actually is, in practice getting a tattoo in Korea is super simple and not that expensive. This is my experience getting a tattoo in Korea!
I, for one, had known for a long time that I wanted to get a tattoo in Korea – even before I knew I’d be here for a year! There are many well-known tattoo artists in Korea. One of my closest friends introduced me to Seoul Ink Studio. It is a studio consisting of some of the most talented tattoo artists in Korea! I fell in love with the style right away and began looking through the many artists, styles, and body tattoo locations.
It was my first tattoo, therefore I was new to everything and wanted to learn all that I could before contacting an artist. And, if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, keep reading, so that you can be as informed as possible too!
Where to Start
Overall, if you’re considering getting a tattoo in Korea, you shouldn’t be worried too much about the quality. Korean artists have high standards and a wide range of styles to choose from! To be honest, I had no idea some of these styles existed as a specialization before I started researching for my own tattoo. Whether your heart craves realism, traditional, cute, or fine line tattoos, you will most likely discover at least one artist that completely matches your personal style.
Almost all tattoo artists in Korea have an Instagram feed where they post their most recent works or accessible designs. So, it’s easy for you to search around and find artists that you like.
Instagram Rabbit Hole
My friend got her first tattoo, and she showed me the artist’s Instagram profile. Personally, that artist wasn’t my style. As a result, I began to hunt for other artists in that artists’ list of followers. And while I did discover some, I wasn’t completely happy; after all, this is going to be a long-term thing. I am a picky person.
However, as I scrolled through more pages, the algorithms did their job and Instagram began to promote more and more artists to me. My feed and stories were now flooded with a variety of artists. Both well-known artists, as well as newcomers, filled my Instagram. Some of them had monthly unique deals that they shared in their stories. Cheaper tattoos (mainly mini or lettering), a unique subject like tigers (because we’re in the year of the tiger), or one-line tattoos are all examples. I started to watch my feed more and more, looking for artists and maybe even a good deal!
And finally, I found a match!
My First Tattoo Artist
On Instagram, I discovered an artist named angggo_tt, who does incredibly adorable drawings in a puppet-like manner. Or, to put it another way, plushie style.
I wanted to get one from her since she doesn’t have a large following yet, but she has a wonderful style and I wanted to support her! She draws a variety of well-known characters from anime (Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, etc. ), video games (such as Pokemon), and her own creations. It was all just too cute!
Contacting a Tattoo Artist
Usually, artists have a direct link to their Kakao Talk – if you don’t have one, you really need to get one! Only a handful of people accept DMs over Instagram.
Look out for some posts where they explain how they like to receive a message. Most of the time you should include:
– Your name
– Your age
– The placement
– The desired size
– The desired date to get it
– Reference pictures
But in the end, every artist is different. Some artists have a specific form they like you to fill out beforehand, some just ask casually for the information mentioned above. Anyways, after you have given them all of the needed information, you have to wait a little bit for their answer! It is a good idea to ask for an approximate price range if you are on a budget because prices can range quite a bit depending on the artist and the tattoo you want.
So, once I talked about my idea and we decided on everything. She asked me to pay a deposit – just as a safety measure in case someone chooses to not show up or refuses to pay after. Usually, it’s around 30,000 Won. However, some are 50,000 Won, and really well-known artists take over 100,000 Won deposit fees. Only after you have paid the deposit, they will start designing your desired piece! Keep that in mind!
Also, not all artists will show you the design before your tattoo appointment. Some do it one to three days before, but I also know of some that only show it when you are already at the shop.
When I went to get my tattoo, I liked the style but wanted to change the color. I chose a character from “Spirited Away” – to be precise I wanted Hakus’ dragon form. But I thought the turquoise she choose wouldn’t match my skin color, so I asked her for a change in color to something warmer. Since she also did “No-face” in a colorful orange tone, I thought it would be nice for Haku too! And so she did it! Small changes usually are ok with the artist, just don’t ask for big changes right before the appointment.
It was fairly easy getting a tattoo in Korea and using Instagram I was able to find the perfect artist. It was a nice experience and the communication, though sometimes had its hick-ups, went pretty well! She tried her best and was super friendly! I am sure most tattoo artists in Korea are just as talented and fun to work with.
The only problem is that now … I still get a lot of artists recommended on Instagram and I am really tempted to get more tattoos.
Stay safe and healthy!
Want to learn more about Korean tattooing laws? Click Here to read more!