Working in Korea

Being a Foreign Model in Korea: What is it like?

Why do you want to come to Korea? Or why did you come to Korea? Maybe you saw the world of K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Beauty and idols and wanted to be a part of it. I came to Korea to attend University but, oh did my path change. My name is Francesca, I am a 21-year old German expat, living and working in Korea as a model! If you’re interested in becoming a model in Korea, then read on…

How it Started

I came to Korea in 2020 as an exchange student. At that time, I decided to make a public Instagram account to post about my daily life as a German exchange student in Korea. Whilst I was in quarantine for COVID-19, I was contacted by photographer who wanted to do a photoshoot with me. I decided to give it a try and I actually had a lot of fun! After a while, I was contacted by more photographers and agencies via Instagram DM. After living in Korea for a year, I decided to sign a contract and work full time as a model in Seoul.

What do I love about modeling? The people. Every single job is unique and I love meeting the creative minds behind each concept. Furthermore, the people I work with inspire me to work on myself and add to my skillset.

How it Works

Unless you sign an exclusive contract with your agency, you are free to work with any other agency, company or photographer. The jobs usually start with a ‘casting call’. This is an offer made for a shooting. Once you are confirmed for the job, you are good to go. Modeling isn’t just about looking pretty. In fact, there are many complex factors involved and the selection process is tough. Someone may choose you based on your experience, height, nationality or looks. By ‘looks’ I mean everything from your hair and eyes to your facial expressions.

What’s more, there are dozens of model types: fashion models, beauty models, CF models and more. For K-Dramas, you may be hired as an extra, particularly in scenes in which the story is based outside of Korea. As an extra, your role is primarily in the background. You could be drinking coffee in a cafe, crossing the street etc.

Personally, I love working as an extra as I get to meet many other foreign models like myself. When you’re shooting as the main model, you have less time to network with colleagues.

Advice

Regardless of what jobs you end up doing, working as a model requires a lot of patience and flexibility. During a shoot, you may be waiting for a long time to be called, or the job may be postponed due to scheduling issues or COVID-19. However, for me at least, the positives outweight the negatives.

Additionally, as a model, you need to be thick-skinned. In the industry, the people you work with will talk candidly about your body and looks. Our complexion, weight and health fluctuate naturally, of course, but be ready for the possibility of an employer passing on you because of this. Those who have been modelling for a long time learn not to take it personally, but it may take a long time to get to that point.

Remember, your mental wellbeing is the most important.

As a model, I am the product of an artist’s idea and creativity. It’s an incredible experience to get my hair and makeup done and no two concepts are the same. I put on the outfit, get into the mindset and become a completely new person! However, do I think this job suits everyone? No. If you think modeling might be your dream, do your research and be ready for the ups and downs that the job entails. After that, if you’ve got an opportunity and the resources to pursue modeling, GO FOR IT!

Have you had any experiences working in the Entertainment industry in South Korea? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. For more information on jobs in Korea for foreigners, subscribe to KoreabyMe.com

🇩🇪 Francesca

Hello Hello! My name is Francesca and I am a 21-year-old Model, living in Seoul! Follow me on my path as I share advice and stories about life in Korea! :D