The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Young People in South Korea Risk Jail Time for Getting Tattoos of Their Feline Friends

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Young People in South Korea Risk Jail Time for Getting Tattoos of Their Feline Friends

While getting a tattoo of a beloved pet may seem okay, young men and women in South Korea who are embracing a trend of getting tattoos of their feline friends may be facing jail time.

While tattoos themselves are not technically illegal, the permanent ink designs must be administered by a licensed doctor- prompting the adventurous to risk consequences just as permanent as their ink by visiting a tattoo parlor.

One parlor is Sol Tattoo, an underground parlor in Seoul which specializes in cat tattoos and encourages its customers to break the law in a very unique way.

The tattoos, which range from several centimeters high to covering a whole forearm, show off customers four-legged friends through cartoons, portraits and etchings.

The parlor also specializes in intricate floral designs, as well as other animals including whales and dogs.

Sol Tattoo regularly posts their detailed creations and 'cat tats' onto social media, showing the growing demand for the unusual ink.

In South Korea, tattoos have long been associated with organized crime, but, championed by sporting heroes, K-pop stars and other celebrities with passionate fan bases, the ink is slowly working its way into the mainstream.

According to the Association of Korean Tattooists, more than a million people have tattoos, prompting many young Koreans to protest against laws which label tattoos as a medical procedure.

“Korean tattooists have good hands, so they're recognized globally like the break-dancers. But because it is illegal, it creates more problems in a shadowy area”, the Association's President, Jang Joon-hyuck told The Korea Times.
   
“In Korea, you can shave your jawbone, slice your eye socket open for bigger eyes, adjust your nose and breasts as you please, but drawing on your body is deemed crazy and illegal”, said a local blogger.

“This old-fashioned attitude needs to change, considering Korea openly supports other forms of body adjustment.”

Korea and Japan are the only countries in the world where the activity is illegal, and police regularly raid local shops believed to be fronting underground tattoo parlors.

Jang Jun-Hyuk, the owner of Tattooism, another underground parlor in Seoul, had his shop targeted in a random raid, and he ended up in court, where he was fined $3,000 and given a one-year suspended jail sentence for violating public health codes.

“If you want to get a tattoo, you're supposed to go to a hospital? It's just absurd,” Jang said.

Despite sporadic crackdowns, the number of studios has continued to grow and some, like Maverick in the expat-friendly district of Itaewon, have grown bold enough to put up neon signs.

“It's a form of passive resistance”, said Maverick owner Lee Sung-Je.
“It's my way of saying 'I'm here, doing my work.”

Lee claims customers across the social spectrum, including a smattering of civil servants, and executives working at straight-laced conglomerates like Samsung.
“Though they do tend to go for tattoos that can be covered up easily,” he said.

Despite the proposition of a bill in December last year that could see the industry regulated, no concrete laws have been introduced to certify tattoo artistry as a legal profession, reported The Wall Street Journal.
  






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