The world owes a great debt to the classic television series M*A*S*H*. This brilliant sitcom is probably the only reason I know about the Korean War — the forgotten war. I took many history classes in high school and college, and it just never came up. Thankfully, I grew up with Alan Alda giving me a maudlin portrait of life in an mobile army hospital during wartime.
Oh, Korea. To this day the 38th parallel still divides this Asian peninsula into North and South, and these two countries couldn’t be any different. South Korea is a vibrant economic power, producing many of the world’s electronics. The country has been greatly modernized since the war and is home to a rich culture and a blossoming, though illegal, tattoo scene.
To the north, the hermit nation of North Korea slowly starves to death. This harsh dictatorship is one of the worst places you could be born. If you fuck up, the government can and will punish your entire family for three generations. We have no idea what the tattoo scene is like in North Korea, but if it exists, it’s probably similar to some scratcher shit you can find in the back room of a bodega on St. Marks.
But let’s not bum ourselves out too much looking at North Korea when things are so much brighter to the south. Sure, at present it may seem like a bumpy time in South Korea’s history. The president has been impeached and the head of Samsung is rotting in jail, but there’s still plenty of great stuff going on.
For starters, South Korea presently has a really hot film scene. They’ve been exporting quality horror films for over two decades, creating a genre unto itself. Korean horror is noted for focusing on the agony and suffering of characters rather than on gore. Films like The Host and Tale of Two Sisters have found wide international audiences. Outside of horror, Korea has recently produced such neo-classics as Old Boy, I Saw The Devil, and The Man From Nowhere.
South Korean food is also totally top notch. The most popular and historic Korean dish is kimchi. Somehow, some Korean back in ancient history got the idea to let cabbage ferment underground. While this may sound disgusting, it is improbably delicious.
And, of course, South Koreans are the undisputed masters of Starcraft. This tactical strategy game caught on huge in South Korea. It is as big as soccer, with millions tuning in for televised matches. The biggest leagues have recently been rocked by scandal, because Korea cares so much about Starcraft that it is a multi-million dollar industry that many have tried to manipulate for their own gain.
That’s just the tip of the Korean iceberg. Let’s take a look at some really beautiful tattoos that spotlight the Korean peninsula. Rather than going super modern on you, we’ve opted to populate this image gallery with tattoos of traditional Korean imagery by up and coming Korean tattooists.
(Please note, while highly educational, M*A*S*H* is not without sin. The first season featured a black surgeon named Spearchucker. He was cut from the series not because of his racially charged name, but because the producers wanted to focus more on Hawkeye and Trapper. Never forget the Korean War. Never forget the racism of CBS Television.)