PETALING JAYA, June 9 — Korean politician Ryu Ho-jeong is using photos of BTS member Jungkook to slam the censorship of tattoos on South Korean TV programmes.
The 28-year-old posted pictures on Instagram showing the Dynamite singer concealing his hand and finger tattoos with bandages and fabric sleeves while performing on music shows.
Ryu called the coverings a “hideous sight” and announced the drafting of her new Tattoo Up Act which aims to make tattooing legal and regulated in South Korea.
“Have you ever seen a ‘bandage’ on the body of your favourite celebrity?
“This hideous sight, which is often seen on Korean TV shows, is created as a measure by the broadcasting station to cover up tattoos,” she wrote.
Ryu, who is a Justice Party representative and South Korea’s youngest lawmaker, said that her country’s prevailing stigma towards body art is eroding in the wake of youths who have embraced tattoos as part of self-expression.
She noted that there is still a need to protect tattoo artists and their customers under the law and regulate the industry as a whole.
“Claims that tattoos harm our ethics or emotions, or that they adversely affect young viewers, have lost their persuasive power in the face of freedom of artistic expression.
“However, ‘tattooing’ is still illegal. The ‘system’ was not able to keep up with the changes in the world that respect the individuality and creativity of free people.”
Having tattoos is not illegal in South Korea but getting one is considered a medical procedure and is only permitted when the tattooist is a qualified medical practitioner.
As a result, many tattoo artists operate under the radar and are not allowed to openly advertise their business on their shopfronts.
Celebrities on national TV are also required to cover up their body art to adhere to broadcasting rules due to stigmas that link tattoos with social ills and gangsterism.
However, negative sentiments towards tattoos have changed over the years thanks to the power of social media and celebrity culture.
Ryu’s decision to use Jungkook’s photos to promote her Tattoo Up Act likely stems from his influence in breaking down taboos and generating discussions about body art amongst younger Koreans.
Besides Jungkook, notable K-pop stars who also sport ink include Block B’s Taeil, rapper G-Dragon, SHINee’s Taemin and solo singer Hyuna.