Korean Massage - Legal or Not?





There is believed to be more than 100,000 massage businesses in Korea. Most of them are illegal.

Not those places that provide a 'happy ending'. Those like the Foot Shop franchise with locations all around Seoul, the many Thai massage shops, and places that have the phrase "sport massage" in the name. They are all breaking the law. In Korea only someone with a recognized vision impairment can get the necessary license to work as a masseur or masseuse. A massage performed for compensation by a person who isn't legally blind is banned

The History of this law: In the 15th century those who couldn't see made a living as fortune tellers or chanters of Daoist texts. Seo Geo-jeong a prominent official noted:

In noble households, people always hire five, six, or seven of those who cannot see to recite scriptures, in order to pray for fortune the first month of every year and to prevent calamities during construction and repair of houses.

When Japan formally annexed Korea as a colony in 1910. The governor-general's office started a campaign to remove 'superstitious' practices including the use of public scriptural recitations for blessings. It was though that training those with visual impairment to perform acupuncture, moxibustion (burning small clumps of mugwort, a wild herb, on specific pressure points) and massage would make them give up their old profession. Although the colonial government considered these practices to be medical—meaning only licensed doctors should perform them—the visually impaired graduates of the training program were given special permission as healers to making a living from them. In April 1946, under American rule the Minis