Given the stigmatization of tattoos South Korea, it is simply astonishing how many excellent artists are producing incredible work there. One such tattooist is BaeKwoon, who works underground in Busan, and produces some excellent traditional and experimental Irezumi. In his work, one can see the intersection of the ancient Japanese art form and South Korean culture. The fundamental elements of Irezumi are ever-present in his work, and sometimes his tattoos break the mold in interesting ways.
BaeKwoon's Irezumi bodysuits are a wonderful spectacle to behold. They frequently feature samurais locked in deadly combat with mythical creatures, such as dragons and giant vipers. Complimenting his central figures, he also tends to tattoo koi swimming up and down the appendages of his clientele. His use of wide-ranging color palettes is notable, because it makes his work stand out in a vibrant way.
BaeKwoon's koi are very pronounced because of their broad form, wide fins, and flowery tails. Sometimes they feature the typical orange and yellow scales, but at other times, he renders these fish in solid blackwork, occasionally highlighting their eyes and extremities with popping chroma, which brings nuance to this time-tested iconography that is so common in Irezumi.
We hope you like discovering BaeKwoon's work as much as we did. If you want to see more of it, follow him on Instagram. He might be hard to track down, but if you're in South Korea and want some large-scale Irezumi, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone better than him to do it.