Punggol Miss Oh

Everyday life of an OL (& occasional bimbo!)

A Not-So-Useful Guide to Getting an Illegal Tattoo in Korea

Personal, Travel

In the past, tattoos often comes with a certain negative stigma due to its stereotypical association with rebellious kids, gangs and triads. Today, tattoos are more than just ink that runs deep into the skin. It is a sign of self-expression and a form of art that perhaps has some significance behind it.

I follow quite a handful of Korean tattooists on Instagram and today’s one of those days where I am itching to get myself inked as I scroll through their beautiful work on my feed.

Having said that, if you haven’t already know, South Korea is still pretty conservative when it comes to tattoos. Therefore, tattooing is still not quite legal in Korea, unless the tattooist is a licensed medical doctor who is allowed to legally handle needles of any kind.

So yes, most of these Korean tattooists that you might have seen on Instagram probably belong to a part of an underground tattoo community. That probably explains why most of these Korean tattooists do not work in the usual brick-and-mortar shops that are out in the open. They work literally underground – in unsuspecting apartments, basements, behind false walls, yup you get my drift – and they’d only take in appointment-based bookings which is subject to the availability of the tattooist’s schedule.

Although these tattoo artists themselves might be working erm without a license, but hey don’t worry, getting inked by them won’t make you a criminal you know.

I’ve been contemplating getting inked for quite a while now, but I have not decided what and where to get. Nope, definitely not a dragon or phoenix on my back, or any of that sort.

Perhaps for a start, I’d just get a tiny inscription on the side of finger like these:

Something smallish, delicate so even if I’d regret it one day, I can still put a band aid plaster around it?

Anyways, here some 10 Korean tattooists which I have shortlisted for myself, if I ever decide what I want to get one day. You can check out their Instagram feed for their amazing work!

1. Masa Tattooer

2. Playground Tattoo

3. Sop Tattoo

4. Tattooist Ami

5. Tattooist Arar

6. Tattooist Baka

7. Tattooist Dal

8. Tattooist Doy

9. Tattooist Nanci

10. Wittybutton Tattoo

How to Book?

Since most of the Korean tattooist operates on an appointment-only basis, you’d have to check their Instagram account for the link to their Kakao ID where they accept bookings and inquiries from there.

For example, in Tattoist Dal’s profile below, she has indicated her Kakao Link and Kakao ID and specifically indicated “NO DM”.

If there’s a Kakao link (like the one highlighted above) or Kakao ID indicated on their profile, you can send them a message via KakaoTalk (Korean version of WeChat, Line and WhatsApp) right away to enquire on their next availability and book your appointment.

However, if you don’t see any Kakao link or Kakao ID listed on their profile page, it probably means that the booking window has closed and you’ll have to check back again for the next booking window.

As much as possible, try not to send them any direct message on their Instagram account unless stated otherwise.

Another fun fact: Even if you’ve got your appointment locked in with the tattooist, you’d probably still be given no details to the exact location beyond perhaps a leaving from a certain exit of a certain subway station – until the day of your appointment itself. Sounds like some secretive underground hideouts, huh?

I’ve also read a couple of reviews that it is advised that you make your booking as early as possible because apparently, the in-demand tattooists are often booked months in advance. And also, it would be better to go only when you already have an idea of what to ink in mind – some might just turn you away or get you to fix another appointment if you turn up clueless!

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