If You Want a Massage In South Korea, the Person Giving It To You Will Likely Be Blind

In Korea, only someone with a recognized vision impairment can acquire the necessary license to work as a masseur or masseuse. In 1913, there was a legal requirement set in motion that only allowed the visually impaired people of Korea to seek out employment as masseurs and masseuses. The goal of the government was to ensure that all disabled people could seek out employment. Everything stayed pretty much the same until 2008, when a group of sighted masseurs challenged the law, saying that it was discriminatory. The law stipulates up to three years in prison or 30 million won ($25,300) in fines for those practicing massage therapy for profit without a license. The Constitutional Court rejected the petition, saying that even though the law restricts people’s freedom to choose an occupation to a certain extent, the right to life of visually impaired people is more important. It’s estimated that approximately 150,000 masseurs and masseuses are working illegally in South Korea today.