Lawmaker Ryu Ho-jeong, who, at age 28, is the youngest member of the South Korean Parliament, caused a stir when she used photos of BTS member Jungkook to promote her bill that seeks to make tattooing a legal practice even for non-medical doctors.
The South Korea Times reported on 8 June that Ryu wrote a lengthy article that started with, “Take the bandages off BTS!” and continued with, “Have you ever seen bandages and Band-Aids on your favorite celebrity’s body? This hideous sight, which is often seen on our Korean broadcasts, is made by the station’s rules to hide tattoos.”
The legislator pointed out that current regulations in Korea require broadcast stations to hide tattoos in different methods because the Korean government claims that “tattoos hurt ethical morals and cause discomfort. It brings adverse effects to young viewers.”
She asserted that the Korean government’s belief about tattoos limits artistic freedom of expression.
“The system was not following the change in the world that now respects individuality and creativity of individuals. Beautiful paintings and wonderful words on tattoos that are common around us are illegal in Korea,” she said.
She claimed that South Korea has three million people with tattoos.
On 10 June, soompi.com ran a story, “9 K-Pop Stars Who Have Meaningful Tattoos.” These include Zico, Soojin, HyunA, Chanyeol, Moonbyul, Johnny, Taeyeon and G-Dragon.
BTS fandom ARMY supports the Ryu bill, but not her having used Jungkook’s photos in her tattoo awareness campaign.
Said ARMY members: “I understand and agree with what you are pursuing. I like that you proposed this bill but please remove BTS and Jungkook’s photo.”
“BTS and Jungkook are not the epitome of ‘tattooed celebrities.’ I think you could have expressed your objective and ‘Tattoo Act’ in a different way.”
“I support the bill but don’t use BTS’ Jungkook like this.”
“I don’t want you to use BTS for politics.”
Actually, Jungkook has many tattoos in his body, some of which he allows people to see off-stage or in private. In September 2020, the website cheatsheet.com reported that he has “16 different tats scattered across his body. There might be even more, but these are the most visible so far.”
He got his first tattoo in September 2019, and he hasn’t stopped since.
On the same day that soompi.com published the tattooed K-pop idols, Ryu apologized for using Jungkook’s pics to promote her bill.
“As a fan of BTS myself, I hated their acts of artistic expression getting restricted,” the lawmaker explained. “I wanted to promote the bill through every day and popular content,” Ryu said in a radio interview.
“I felt sorry because the reason why the word ‘politics’ is received negatively seems to be the results of politicians’ failure to build public trust.”
Ryu, however, did not respond directly to the radio host’s question of whether she is planning to delete the controversial photos.
“There are various opinions,” Ryu said. “I wish I will be given an opportunity to elaborate on the bill.”
Ryu seems to have a knack for drawing attention through unconventional means. She once attended the plenary session of the National Assembly in a short pink one-piece dress. At another session, she turned up in work clothes and a helmet.