I am quite amazed by the South Korean cat tattoos featured in this article, but not really surprised to learn that “Under Korean law, tattooing is defined as a medical procedure” and thousands of the country’s tattoo artists are still remain underground. In most Asian cultures (and many other cultures!), it’s common to associate tattoo with gangsters, criminals, an antisocial attitude or possibly a degenerating lifestyle. While traditional Asian cultures seem to have particularly low tolerance in accepting this kind of unconventional form of art which requires using human skin as canvas. For example, in Japan, where tattoo designs had been observed as early as Yayoi period, you can still be prohibited from entering hot springs or public baths because of tattoos in 2010s Japan.
An oppressed environment for this kind of art form is probably not such a bad thing. Every individual tattoo by these South Korean tattooists exists like a quietly burgeoning flower from muddy underground — subtle, delicate, telling unique stories just on their own (thanks to Instagram).