Top Modeling Agencies in South Korea (and Ones That Hire Foreigners)


Top Modeling Agencies  in South Korea

Modeling in Korea as a local or foreigner can lead to tons of unique opportunities. You get to try on stylish clothes for a living and meet all sorts of interesting people from around the world. Best of all, modeling agencies are always looking for new talent in Korea.

But with opportunity comes risk. We’ll cover how to avoid pitfalls and:

  • a brief history of the best Korean modeling agencies
  • Korean model agencies for foreigners

Let’s get started!

19 Stylish Korean Outfits You Can Buy Right Now 

How to Become a Model in Korea

There’s a lot of demand for non-Korean models of all ages and looks for commercials (CF), print and even home shopping. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1.

Get a portfolio from a freelance photographer. You can check social media platforms for ones looking for models to shoot as well!

Step 2.

Find a modeling agency in Korea that specializes in foreign models (not all will sponsor your visa, you’ll have to ask!). The major ones are listed below.

Step 3.

Check their reputation online by joining Facebook groups and asking people with experience (you may be able to check the agencies’ website and contact their models independently on Instagram). Quality of modeling agencies tends to change since there’s a lot of turnover, so a good one can become shady overnight and vice versa.

Step 4.

Contact the agency, send headshots and other info they request.

Step 5.

Read the contract carefully. It should be in both Korean and English. Make sure there aren’t any penalty clauses, and the term is only for a year or two. If you don’t understand something, ask someone you trust for an explanation.

Step 6.

Get an E-6 Visa sponsored by the agency, or an F Visa that will allow you to work anywhere and stay in the country long-term.

More about Jobs for Foreigners in Korea

Agencies in Korea for foreigners who want to act

For those interested in acting in Korea as a foreigner, you’re in luck. Most casting of foreigners is based on looks, so there are opportunities to find work in TV dramas, movies and CFs (commercials). Some modeling agencies will also provide chances to audition for roles.

The “docu-drama” Surprise also regularly casts foreigners of all nationalities. The flipside is it can pigeonhole you into that type of work forever, since Koreans will recognize you from those roles. It’s also hard to be taken seriously because the production quality is generally low.

The Best Korean Modeling Agencies

Left: Cha Seung-won | Right: Jin Hee-kyung

Model Line” agency led the modeling industry in South Korea from the late 80s to the early 90s with notable figures like Cha Seung-won and Jin Hee-kyung.

DCM took over as Model Line went out of business because of financial problems.

DCM didn’t last long, and was divided into a few companies.

One of them was ESteem.

1. ESteem

Source: ELLE

ESteem started with a small number of hot female models in the Korean fashion industry: Jang Yoon-ju, Han Hye-jin and Song Kyung-a. They wielded tremendous influence and quickly became the top model agency.

Han Hye-jin, Jang Yoon-ju and Song Kyung-a

ESteem then recruited Kim Won-kyung and Lee Hyun-yi, and reached the level of monopolizing pictorials of all high fashion magazines, such as VOGUE.

The agency quickly helped Korean models work overseas, starting with Han Hye-jin and Song Kyung-a. Then, it recruited Park Ji-hye, Soojoo, Kim Sung-hee, Kwak Ji-young and Yoo Ji-ann to expand even further.

Park Ji-hye, Soojoo, Kim Sung-hee

Since its establishment in 2003, ESteem has had the most influence in the modeling industry.

But, its position swayed little by little as KPLUS began to grow.

ESteem established a strategic partnership with SM in 2015.
(Lee Hyori signed an exclusive contract with ESteem in 2020 due to her connection with the CEO, Kim So-yeon.)

2. KPLUS

KPLUS was also born from the demise of DCM. Despite having a large roster of models, the agency wasn’t popular at first. Its strength was mostly male models.

While ESteem had a crazy lineup of female models, but not many male models, KPLUS had hot male models who were crushing Seoul Fashion Week.

KPLUS stepped up to its current position as a top 2 agency thanks to a merger with YG in 2014. Now with the name YG KPLUS, it’s signed contracts with many female models as well.

Among their talent, Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk became very popular as models who became actors. (They used to date, but broke up.)

The agency also made waves overseas, starting with Choi So-ra, who won Korea’s Next Top Model Season 3.

Now, both agencies are working hard to break into broadcasting/media, beyond runway and editorial.

Korean Model Agencies for Foreigners

Here are some of the more well-known agencies for foreigners in South Korea. Always do your research before signing with one.

1. Base Models

  • Mail: basemodels@naver.com 
  • Phone: +82-2-545-0509
  • KakaoTalk ID: basemodels 

Base Models brings talented foreign models from all over the world to Seoul / South Korea. The company was created by former models and designers to deliver great results for both the talent and clients! 

2. MDI Model Management

  • Email: mdimodel@mdient.com
  • Phone: +82-2068-4431
  • KakaoTalk: pf.kakao.com/_aVNnd

MDI recruits foreign models (male, female and kids) for both print and film (commercials, editorials, etc.).

3. Banilla Models

  • Email: banillamodels1@gmail.com
  • Phone: +82-2-518-0042
  • KakaoTalk: banillamodels

Banilla Models was established in 2008 and is specialized in being a foreigner model agency. The agency mainly works with brands in fashion, beauty and lifestyle (sports, wedding, etc.).

4. Ever Models

  • Email: stephen@evermodel.com (Chief Casting Manager)
  • Phone: +82-2-3443-7011

Ever Models is a talent and model agency for foreigners (men and women). The agency focuses on commercials and magazine editorials.

5. Jennifer Model

  • Email: bae@jennifer-models.com
  • Phone: +82-2-545-3022
  • Instagram: @jennifermodel

Jennifer Model provides professional management to both Korean and international models, specializing in fashion editorials.

6. Dobe Management

  • Email: mydobe@gmail.com
  • Phone: +82-2-798-7200

Dobe Management specializes in the fashion industry, working with models of any nationality, gender, body type, and age. The agency works in a variety of fields, including movies, music videos, TV programs, TV commercials, runway, magazines, print and catalog features.

7. About International Model Management

Email: booking.aboutmodel@gmail.com
Phone: +82-2-797-0678
Facebook: @AboutInternationalModelManagement

About International Model Management is an international modeling agency for professionals, lifestyle models, and children. The agency has an extensive range of clients.

8. J Model Management

  • Email: audition.jmodelseoul@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @jmodel_management

J Model Management is an agency for international male and female models in the fashion industry.

9. Hanmaroo Management

  • Email: casting@hanmaroomodels.com
  • Instagram: @hanmaroomanagement

Hanmaroo Management is a model agency for men and women of all ages, including children. The agency works in both print and video.

Things to Know before Contacting a Modeling Agency

  1. You shouldn’t have to pay for anything to work other than perhaps head shots.
  2. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get work. Any agency that promises that is being dishonest.
  3. Making a lot of money is very hard in modeling. Any agency that says otherwise is being dishonest.
  4. Research the modeling agency’s reputation yourself with Facebook groups or by asking around.
  5. Don’t sign a contract until you understand it and agree to the terms. Contracts longer than a few years are predatory.
  6. Don’t do something that makes you uncomfortable, especially if you feel pressured.
  7. Contact your embassy or consulate if you need help or your passport is taken.

Find out more about ways to protect yourself here.

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Did we miss anything?

Korean modeling industry is progressing rapidly with some turmoil.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

52 thoughts on “Top Modeling Agencies in South Korea (and Ones That Hire Foreigners)”

    • Hi Dima,

      Yes, it’s hard to know which agency is reliable. I recommend checking the Modeling and Acting in Korea Facebook groups (there are two main ones) to get some unbiased opinions on who to work with. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Hi Goshika,

      I think a good place to start is to join the FB groups that cover acting and modeling in Seoul. You can join them and get an idea of what it’s like to work in Korea as an actress. Hope this helps!

      Reply
    • Hi Ruhama,

      That’s a great question. I wish I could give you definitive answer, but agencies have a lot of turnover. The best way would be to join the Facebook groups for modeling and talk to models who have worked with the agency you’re interested in. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Hi Sanam, these are the largest modeling agencies that hire foreigners in Korea.
      Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the reliability of these agencies, because turnover is so high in the industry.
      You’ll need to research them and read the contract carefully before signing.

      Reply
      • Hay hay , so I was looking for a modelling agency, and I would really love love to join one , how do I proceed in that ? And what are the requirements
        I am from South Africa

        Reply
        • Hi Shanderea,

          You can start contacting the agencies that hire foreign models and see what their requirements are. I believe they’ll need headshots and hire all types of looks, so it will really depend on what’s in demand. Make sure to check their reputation online before signing anything. Best of luck!

          Reply
      • Hi Roma, thank you for the comment.
        It’s always a good idea to get your portfolio or profile pics, and email them to modeling agencies in South Korea.
        Another route could be building a modeling career in your country first, then expanding it or collaborating with Korean agencies.
        Either way, best of luck!

        Reply
    • Hi Namrata,

      You can start contacting the agencies that hire foreign models and see what their requirements are. Then you can check their reputation online. Best of luck!

      Reply
  1. Hello, my name is Warda from Morocco, I am 18 years old, my height is 170, and my weight is 49 kg
    I love the fashion world and my dream is to become a model in Korea. My question is, is the testing process done online only for those who are not in Korea, and is it also possible to accept Arabs, especially Moroccans?

    Reply
  2. Hello Minjung,
    Want to apply to be a model in Korea next year because I’m still in the university now and want to finish before applying but I’ll be 23 next year plus I’m from an African country too , will that be a problem

    Reply
    • Hello Eboselume,

      It might be a factor depending on the type of modeling you do, but there’s demand for all ages and ethnicities. It’s worth trying to see if it’s what you want to do. Best of luck!

      Reply
  3. How can we get visa for working in modelling agency should we have to take visa in our own country or what to do i am indian and i m 18 years i want to do modelling in korea please help me

    Reply
    • Hi Katie,
      The basic process is: Find a freelance photographer to take your pictures and make a profile. Send it out to agencies until you find one that will sponsor your visa. They will give you the paper work and you can go to the consulate in your country and apply. It takes 2-3 months to complete the process.

      For emailing agencies, you can send your portfolio or profile pictures right away.
      Perhaps, your email title/subject can be: 외국인 모델 지원합니다. (Applying as a foreign model)
      You can start off the conversation by saying: 안녕하세요, __NAME___입니다.
      Make sure to include your name, nationality, age, gender, modeling career, etc.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
  4. portofoilo means after becoming model I want to become actress should I become how much the contract should be long noona help me please.

    Reply
    • Hi Brideee,
      Getting into acting can be tricky. Richard got jobs by answering ads online for extras in Korea.
      How about starting out by sending your profile pics?
      Once you’re in the country with the right visa, there will be more opportunities for modeling and acting.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  5. thanks for your answering
    1) is being model in South Korea, like the being k-pop singer?
    we must be a trainee before the start of modeling or we have to be a trainee for months or years?
    2) and I heard that, k-pop agencies have a lot of rules and force:
    don’t use cellphone, don’t post every pic on instagram, don’t date, don’t come back to their country and etc. are these things exist in modeling agency too?
    3) is there run way modeling too?

    Reply
    • Hi Sara,
      1) Each agency might be different, but you’ll probably start modeling right away, instead of training for years like k-pop idols.
      2) K-pop agencies have very strict rules like you mentioned, but modeling agencies will have fewer. I’m guessing they’ll tell you about weight control, more than anything.
      3) Yes, there’s runway modeling too, such as for Seoul Fashion Week.
      Hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hello Noona! I am Anisha. I want to be a model but after I complete my high school. Is it possible that they will take students who just completed high school?
    Is it really difficult to go Korea after high school? Can you please help me 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Anisha!

      Yes, it’s possible to go with a high school degree, but I highly recommend you finish college first. There’s a lot more opportunity for college graduates in Korea.

      Reply
  7. Hello
    I had a few questions
    First:
    Are big entertainment companies like JYP trusted for modeling or are they just famous in other areas of the entertainment industry like singing or dancing?
    And secondly:
    For a foreigner, participating in their online auditions on the company’s site is as responsible as participating in their in-person auditions or not?
    And third
    Do such companies only sign contracts with people under 18 or is it possible to sign contracts with older people?
    And fourth that
    Is modeling like singing debut and is there a guarantee for its future career or not? Because foreign models have to leave their place of residence to do this, and I’m worried about what to do if another company does not sign a contract after the relevant training.
    Please answer these questions
    Thank you very, very much

    Reply
    • Hi Parnisa,

      Those are quite a few questions^^ Unfortunately, we don’t have inside info as to how JYP operates. There are no guarantees in life, especially in modeling and entertainment. I’d recommend using your best judgment. Best of luck!

      Reply
  8. Hello , unnie
    I have a question, do we need to be tall to be model or others? or it doesn’t matter’s?
    for photo modelling , do we have to be tall?

    Reply
    • Hello Megan,
      It really depends on the type of modeling.
      For runway work, you need to be tall, but for photoshoot/commercial modeling, you don’t!
      I hope this helps! ^^

      Reply
  9. Hi, I want to be model in south Korea but I had never done modelling so am new, will fresher gets a chance to be model in Korea?

    Reply
    • Hi Christina, yes, of course. I’d recommend taking some headshots and building a portfolio before contacting agencies. It’s also a good idea to create an instagram account and put up the pictures there. You can leave it private if you’d like. Best of luck!

      Reply
  10. Hello I’m Sandrine William
    I really want to be a Korean model but I’m in Africa and I need help coz I don’t know how to do that 😔

    Reply
    • Hello Sandrine,

      That’s a good question. Start by taking headshots, either professionally or have a friend do it, and building a portfolio before contacting agencies in Korea. You might want to create an instagram account and put up the pictures there. You can leave it private if you’d like, but share it with agencies. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Hi Helia,
      You can probably email [ygkplus@ygkplus.com] to apply.
      YG also has a specific audition website here, but they’re currently auditioning actor/actress and vocalist/rapper/dancer positions.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
      • Thanks
        could you please tell me what should i write in the for the subject an description?
        How many photos should i send for them?
        If i fail, will they send an email for me telling me that i failed?

        Reply
        • Hello again and you’re welcome Helia,

          You can perhaps use: [Helia] 외국인 모델 지원합니다. as the email subject, which simply means applying as a non-Korean (foreign) model.

          In terms of photos, you can send about 4-10 first and they’ll tell you if they want to see more.

          You may or may not get a response, it really depends on the agency.
          Best of luck!

          Reply

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