From Superstitious Fishermen to Underground Magpies; History Fun Fact Vol. 14

From Superstitious Fishermen to Underground Magpies; History Fun Fact Vol. 14
December 18
16:14 2017

The fun fact comes a bit early this week, but trust us, it will be worth it come Christmas on Sunday.

Superstitious Fishermen; The Beginning of Korean Tattoo Culture:

Superstitious Fishermen, it sounds very particular. However, not much has been written down about the tattoo history of Korea. But what is known, is that tattooing seems to have been a mainstay with Korean fishermen, hundreds of years ago. They would tattoo themselves, much like sailors have done all over the world, in order to ward of misfortune and bad luck.

Thus their tattoos were lucky charms, meant to ensure safe return when out at sea, a bountiful catch and much more. Many speculate they they have been heavily inspired, by traders, merchants and others, they would meet from their neighbors such as Japan and China.
Both countries, with extensive tattoo cultures of their own, especially at the time.

What was the main point is as said, spiritual protection. Despite fishermen being most well documented as a group who used tattoos this way in Korea. Scientists speculate, that other groups such as soldiers, concubines and more (similar to their neighbors again), would also have used them in this way.

Underground Magpies; Criminalisation and a Youth in Revolt:

But with the changing times, especially moving into the 19th century, tattoo culture changed. Not just in Korea but all over east Asia.
Heavily influenced by especially china, tattoos became criminalized and something looked down upon. They became a tool to be used, to mark people as different and apart from society. A tool for ostracizing people and marking criminals and slaves. Criminals especially got marked with specific tattoos, detailing their exact crime, such as having thief tattooed on their forehead.

Even today, tattooing is still an illegal practice in Korea, yet as documentaries have shown, tattooing is still going on in Korea.
The youth especially, is still getting tattooed just like the rest of the world. Thus their are still plenty of tattoo artists in Korea some of which are world class. But despite the beautiful tattoos that are getting made in Korea, the stigma remains somewhat intact.

But their are signs of the Korean people loosening up somewhat, at least in cities like Seoul. Still the youth are at times very careful. Many Koreans who get tattooed today, even get tattoos to do with their culture, showing their pride in where they are from. For example by getting the ever popular Magpie tattoo, which is the national bird of Korea.

Final Comments:

Perhaps what has taken place in Korea and what is taking place there now, can teach us something. How the youth keep using tattoos, despite it being criminalized and so frowned upon, families are known to disown their children if they get tattoos. It shows us how important tattoos can be. How important self realization can be to some people, how free reign over their bodies is important.
Perhaps it can even show us, how natural it seems for us humans, to decorate our bodies with tattoos?
We leave that for you guys to decide.

We hope you enjoyed this slice of history from a tiny country in Europe. Please don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (@Mediazink_Official), for more awesome articles and other content.

About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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