Tattoos In Korea

TattoosWhile the conservative nature of Korean society has always frowned upon the practice of skin ink, tattoos seem to be getting more and more popular for the younger generation of Korean teenagers in the last decade.

It is quite common to find young adult men and young teenage korean guys in the more popular Gangnam areas who sport some impressive designs on their arms.


Type 1

Some of the most common designs that they choose is similar in design as many American teenagers, choosing to go with traditional Chinese characters. Koreans call these Chinese derived Korean terms Hanja. Hanja is where many modern Korean words have been taken from Chinese origins.

Before King Sejong the Great set out to create a completely new, easy to read and write language of what would be the modern version of Hangul today, most Koreans who were literate before the Dynasties wrote in Traditional Chinese Character. Because the characters were so many and too difficult for the commoner to memorize and learn, a new language was created to make it easier for more people in the population to become literate.

Type 2

Other designs that young Koreans go for are Proverbs from Christianity Sources, most of all the Holy Bible like the The New Testament. Christianity has been a major part of Korean culture for the last last century. The first contact with the religion was when Korean emmisaries who went to Imperial China brought back books on Christianity written by Jesuits missionaries who were stationed in China centuries ago. For centuries afterwards Christianity was prosecuted as a religion until the Korean revolution and war back in the 1950s. After the old system collapse and Christianity prosecution stopped, the religion grew in number and influence.

Today, the belief in the word of Jesus Christ has spread completely throughout the south side of the Korean Peninsula and the result is that more and more incidences are appearing where fanatical young korean christians are trying to imprint their faith and the most core principles of their life on their skins.

Religious imagery and symbols have always been one of the most popular forms of tattoos and in Korea that is no exception.

Type 3

The third most common choice for tattoos is to go with names, to tell the word a loved one, whether it is their gf/bf, or a son or daughter.

Ultimately getting a tattoo is a individual’s choice in expressing who they are as a person, what they stand for, what they identify with, and how they identify themselves. Tattoos often tell a story about that person.

People get tattoos for a multiple of reasons. Some people get tattoos to remind themselves of past pains, to always remember what happened. Others are to represent a way to easily remember the guiding principles on how they live their life. Some get tattoos to show off their bodies and enjoy the eyes that stare at them.

Whatever it is, the younger Korean generation are getting tattoo to satisfy some type of inner yearning for personal expression.


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