Comebacks, Throwbacks, and Faux Tattoos

By: Taylor Louise
Faux Tattoos

Within the past year, there’s been a surge in K-pop groups sporting both permanent and non-permanent body art. Temporary tattoos are fast becoming a focal point of performance makeup and have been included in several successful comebacks. The trend has even been used to hint at tracks within album teasers. Here, EnVi has highlighted some of our favorite fake inks and how they were used for each era.



The 23-member boy group, under SM Entertainment, has a recent, but strong history in sporting faux tattoos for comebacks.

One of NCT’s first appearances with short-term ink was by NCT 127. Surprising fans with large black faux tattoos, NCT 127 used fake tattoos for their 2020 repackage, “Punch.” 

Hand-drawn onto each member, artist Junkied shared behind-the-scenes photos of his artwork. The monochrome designs featured his signature style of line and dot work. It was followed through with the black grunge-like styling of their costumes, with leather pants, silver hardware, lots of straps. Each member’s designs also hinted at their own personality and background, with smaller, customized designs such as Johnny’s Chicago chest piece.


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A post shared by Johnny Suh (@johnnyjsuh)

The fake tattoos greatly impacted the repackage, giving a stronger vibe to the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of their track “Punch. Proving to be popular with fans, many expressed their positive shock at the use of the detailed designs that were found all over the members’ bodies. Some even revisited the influential era months after. 

Following the success of faux tattoos in NCT 127’s “Punch, SM Entertainment stylists chose to use the temporary ink again. They scattered more subtle transfer images over NCT U’s “Make A Wish lineup. Unlike before, the members mostly wore these designs onstage for performances, rather than in teasers. Likewise, a similar look was created for NCT Dream’s 2021 repackage “Hello Future, with members’ body’s being covered in a fun, removable


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A post shared by NCT DREAM OFFICIAL (@nct_dream)

NCT’s members loved them so much that, they took to their personal social media to share images of the fake tattoos, whilst other members included their designs in collectors photocards.


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A post shared by JAEMIN (@na.jaemin0813)


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A post shared by REN JUN (@yellow_3to3)


Stray Kids 

More recently, Stray Kids leader, Bangchan, was spotted teasing fake neck tattoos for their performance video “Unveil Track: ‘강박.” 

The performance video, posted 5th August 2020, featured members Bangchan and Hyunjin exhibiting their powerful dance moves. Just days before, in a youtube video, the members broke down some of the key aspects, including the fake ink. It showed behind the scenes filming the performance, sharing pictures of the members at the end. 

The short glimpse of the temporary tats shook fans, forcing them to express their enthusiasm by sharing posts on social media and leaving comments such as, “IM DIZZY.” Whereas others focused solely on their surprise at the tattoos, “I didn’t realize the tattoos!” Fans wait in anticipation, for the full-length music video, to see the faux tattoos up close and in HD.



The eight-member group rocked tattoos with a similar purpose to NCT Dream’s fake ink. For their Del Mundo Fan Event, the members were captured rocking neck, chest, and hand tattoos that spelled out ‘Del Mundo’ and their fandom’s name, ‘Atiny’. 

The inclusion of their fans’ collective name showed the boy group’s support for their audience and was a direct hint to the importance of their fan event. The placing of each tattoo was carefully thought out, with intimate but visible areas being chosen. The designs were specific to the group making the inkings feel more personal to both them and fans alike. It built a stronger connection for the overall stage.

Many Atiny called the fake tattoos a “powerful concept,” demonstrating how popular the makeup was. Some fans looked back to simply show their pure happiness for the use of the fake ink.


Honourable Mentions 

Faux tattoos are seemingly growing in popularity, for music videos and performances. A whole concept might not be built around the styling of tattoos but many idols have been spotted with fake tats. Here are some honorable mentions that couldn’t be missed out! 



EXO’s member Kai has repped torso tattoos for multiple EXplOration tour performances. Some of the designs were originally drawn by Kai’s father but were later touched up by a professional to create the final drawings used for the fake ink. 



During the filming of BTS’s music video for ON, BTS member V caught fans’ attention with his large, fake neck tattoo and cheek tattoo. The under-eye piece read, “The shadow like me,” The image covering his neck followed a cracked or vine-like design. V took to Weverse to share how the fake tattoos came about, explaining that he simply, “wanted to do it for this comeback.” 

The use of the tattoos was V’s idea, making it another very personal design for fans to connect with. The temporary tattoo also fits well with the rest of the imagery found in the music video. It even made it on stage during various performances. 

It’s obvious that faux tattoos are becoming a greatly utilized design aspect of performance beauty. Although we have covered some of the most recent uses of fake ink, we hope to see this trend continue. 


You can read more about idols’ permanent tattoos here! 

Thumbnail courtesy of SM Entertainemnt.