Neophyte Korean lawmaker Rep. Ryu Ho-jeong has apologized for using K-pop idol group BTS’ Jungkook to push her bill to legalize tattoo artists in South Korea but did not take down his photos despite demands by netizens.
Last June 8, Ryu took to social media and explained her bill, the Tattoo Business Act, and uploaded several photos of Jungkook that showed his tattoos covered with bandages.
“Take the tape off of BTS. Have you ever seen tape on your favorite celebrity’s body? This is a hideous sight, which is often seen on Korean television as it is the rules of the broadcasters not to expose tattoos,” Ryu posted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.
This got the ire of BTS ARMYs and netizens who accused her of using Jungkook for political gains and without his permission, and demanded that she delete his photos immediately. Some asked Big Hit Music, BTS’ label, to act on it.’
“It’s nice to have a bill but you’re using the face of a certain celebrity too much. Please delete the photo,” one Korean netizen wrote.
Another said, “Please take down the photo. Do you have to use the artist’s photo to make a political statement?”
On a radio program on Korean channel MBC, Ryu expressed her apology and claimed that she is a fan of BTS.
“I want to give my apology if there were people hurt (by the action). As a fan of BTS myself, I hated their acts of artistic expression getting restricted,” she said, according to Yonhap News.
She added, “I wanted to promote the bill through everyday and popular content. 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.”
Despite the apology, Ryu did not take down the photos as demanded by netizens. As of writing, Jungkook’s photos are still on her social media accounts.
Currently, only licensed medical professionals can perform tattooing in Korea and non-medical people who do it are considered illegal.
Tattooing by non-medical persons has been illegal since Korea’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that only medical personnel can perform it.
Popular tattoo artist Kim Do-yoon, whose past clients include Brad Pitt, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and actor Steve Yeun, was fined 5 million won ($4,494) in December 2019 for tattooing a celebrity in violation of the law Medical Service Act of South Korea.
Ryu said there are 3 million Koreans who have tattoos but tattooing by non-medical persons is still illegal in the country.