According to Mr. Kim’s interview with BBC News, many tattoo artists are leaving South Korea so that they don’t have to work underground anymore. Indeed, studios in the U.S. recruit talent from South Korea for their popular style. Meanwhile, in South Korea, artists are still going to court for doing their jobs. In 2019, one artist was fined 3 million won (or about $2,500), according to the Yonhap News Agency. Just this year, a similar case occurred with another artist that was charged the same amount, according to Money S.
Those that stay in South Korea have clients coming to them. According to Insider, one “Singaporean beauty marketing manager Teresa Chan … has flown to Seoul on three separate occasions to get inked by three different artists.” The irony of having growing global fame while being forced underground in their home country is not lost on one tattoo artist named Sol. She told Insider, “We may be known worldwide thanks to social media, but the reality is that our businesses cannot be proudly open.”