Is tattooing art or medical practice?

Is tattooing art or medical practice?

Korean tattoo artist Kim Do-yoon, also known as Doy, gives a tattoo to a client. Courtesy of Kim Do-yoon

By Lee Hae-rin

Tattoos continue to cause controversy after a long history of social stigma.

Tattoos have long been negatively associated with organized crime in South Korea since the 20th century. The gang adopted Japanese yakuza customs to paint terrifying pictures of tigers, snakes, goblins, and dragons on their skin. Often large enough to cover the entire arm or torso.

Since then, 4,444 tattoos have fueled horror and discouraged tattooed people from showing ink in public. The deeply rooted Confucian culture of the country also means that people are expected not to change the body given by their parents. This concept undoubtedly contributed to the intolerance of tattooing one’s body.

Until recently, tattoos even prevented them from completing forced military service completely. Most recently, in February last year, the Military Manpower Administration lifted the rule of exempting individuals with tattoos larger than 3 inches in diameter and 12 inches square from active duty.

In this combined photo, the tattoos of Monica, a Korean dancer, are made less visible with tape and blurring for Mnet’s popular dance competition show “Street Women Fighter.” Captured from internet

Tattoos remain taboo in mainstream media. TV producers cover actors’ tattoos with skin-colored tape, but the Korean Communications Commission has no specific restrictions on on-screen tattoos on television.

Ironically, the country saw the birth of the original tattoo culture in a hostile environment.

To reshape the negative perceptions of the public, striking from the organized crime stereotypes, modern Korean tattoo artists have developed sophisticated techniques that allow for more detailed and sentimental designs. Learned and created your new tattoo style. The Korea Times said in a recent interview that he has 16 years of experience as a veteran tattoo artist who founds and runs a union of local tattoo artists.

“In today’s tattoo industry, Korean artists are one of the best technicians in the world,” said Kim, who is in high demand for Korean artists at internationally renowned tattoo parlors in New York and Los Angeles.

Pictures of tattoos inked by Kim Do-yoon / Captured from Kim Do-yoon’s Instagram

Kim said he saw Koreans become more open and tolerant from his experience as a first-generation tattoo artist. Tattoos are no longer seen as a threat or symbol of crime but as a form of art and self-expression that is popular with young people in general, such as students, office workers, and housewives.

However, the national legal system continues to contradict reality. Kim and an estimated 250,000 fellow artists in the country have been criminalized for providing performance-restricted “medical services” by doctors licensed under the current Medical Services Act.

Thursday’s Constitutional Court ruling could “endanger public health” and cause potential side effects and safety issues, so Kim tattooed Korean actors as a criminal offense I supported it.

The the case dates back to 2019 when a viewer who watched a YouTube video with an actor tattooing Kim complained to her about “illegal cosmetology.”

However, tattooing is not illegal, so the complaint was escalated to tattoo artist Kim. Kim has been charged with a summary of a fine of 5 million won, but along with a group of his fellow artists and lawyers, he filed a proceeding in the Constitutional Court in hopes of overturning repeated rulings against the tattoo industry. I decided to do it.

The court’s ruling on this matter has been consistent since 1992 but is surprising to many overseas tattoo artists.
Kirk Martin, a Canadian tattoo artist who lived in South Korea from 2006 to 2018, said the law did not reflect the hygiene standards and professionalism of Korean tattoo artists, and the artists and their clients were less protected. We believe that we are forcing no underground industry.

“If they (courts) are really worried about people’s health, they will introduce a system to protect customers and tattoo artists … if properly regulated, tattoo artists Whatever it is, it’s safer for both parties.

“Kim confessed to being recognized as an” activist “in the international circle of tattoo artists and fighting one of the last nonsensical regulations in the world.

Canadian tattoo artist Kirk Martin gives a tattoo to a client at his studio in Halifax, Canada. Courtesy of Sin on Skin Tattoo Studio

Attending more than 150 international conferences, Kim said, a tattoo artist attended in Spain in early July, and many artists expressed regret and support for the situation in South Korea.

At least six of the more than 700 members were sentenced to imprisonment by his union, and many others were allowed to tattoo them by law in force. I had to pay a fine. The license prohibits those who own more than 250,000 tattoo artists in the country.

Penalties include imprisonment for up to two years or a fine of up to 10 million won ($ 7,462).

“Some clients threatened practitioners after tattooing, refused to pay, and said, ‘If I report to you, I’ll have to pay a fine to be a criminal,'” Kim said. Said. Female artists are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and other crimes because they choose not to contact the police for fear of reporting illegal transactions.

Tattoo artist Kim Do-yoon, leader of the tattooist labor union / Courtesy of Kim Do-yoon


Attorney Kwak Yae-ram, a lawyer at Owl, a Korean law firm that represents Kim in court, defined tattoos as “acts of medical services” and said they were the only developed country in the world to criminalize the transaction.

In other countries, there are strict regulations for obtaining a tattoo artist’s license and often carry out regular inspections. Martin, trained in South Korea and currently working as a tattoo artist in Canada, varies in Canada to show that tattoo artists like him are properly trained and undergo regular health checks and tests. I explained that a tattoo is required.

“The Constitutional Court has ruled that alternative policies implemented and implemented in other countries (tattoo regulation and public health protection) are inadequate to protect public health,” Kwak said. Said.

“Tattoos are still illegal here because tattoo machines and inks have never been certified and registered as medical devices, even if done by a fully licensed doctor,” Kim said. “That’s because there is no country in the world that defines tattoos as a medical practice (the countries that manufacture and export tattoo devices).”

Kwak says that even the medical services provided by doctors are provided by non-medical devices. I have confirmed that it will be illegal if it is done.


Credit/Source : KoreaTimes

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