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


Lingua Asia 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!

Korean model agencies are companies that represent models who work in the local fashion industry. They scout and manage talent while helping models find work.

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 (bonus points if you get your hair done). 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!

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

  1. 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
  2. Hi Minjung! Thank you for the article, it was very helpful!
    I would like to ask your advise.
    I got 1 contract proposal from an agency in Korea, but they don’t sponsor one year visa.
    Also, the thing is that I already have mother agency, that I’m planning to stop working with.
    In order to get a one year visa, do you think I should apply as a freelance model/actress, without a mother agency? Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Hi Valerie,
      Congrats on getting a contract proposal! ^^
      I can’t tell for sure because I don’t know the details.
      It could be that the agency doesn’t want to sponsor your visa at all as it requires a lot of paperwork, or maybe the agency wants a freelance model.
      Perhaps, before ending your contract with your current agency, ask the new agency if they’re willing to sponsor visa at all.
      One thing for sure is that you need an E-6 visa to work as a model in Korea.
      It might be better to look for a bigger agency with preferential screening of E6 visa (meaning an agency that is a corporate, is registered as a pop culture and arts planning business, has sales performance of at least 500 million won within the last 3 years) as they can sponsor E-6 visa easily.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
  3. Hi I’m renesamah I’m 18 age of years I’m 152 cm I live in Jamaica but I want to live in Korea and be a model/actress but I don’t know where to start .thank you..

    Reply
    • Hi Renesamah,

      Height may limit you a bit in modeling, but it’s still possible to do print and acting work. You should make a portfolio and start emailing it out to agencies. They’ll sponsor your visa if they want to work with you and pay will vary. Best of luck!

      Reply
  4. Hi i’m Andrey I’m 22 age of years i’m 193cm I live in Republic of Sakha Yakutia but I want to live in Korea and be a model but I don’t know where to start. Very informative site, a lot of useful, thank you.

    Reply
  5. Hi again actually I can’t get your reply but it’s my instagram account 184_2su … so can you message me on this id please I will tell you there please message me on this id please please….sis

    Reply
  6. my name is maxim, i want to try myself as a model 25 years old, nationality russian-korean, height 191 weight 84. nice appearance

    Reply
  7. HELLO….THIS SIDE KHUSHI ….I’M A STUDENT …I WANT TO DO MODELLING AND ENTER IN THIS INDUSTRY ….MY AGE IS 19 …..HEIGHT BEING 5″3 …WEIGHT 48KG ….I WANT SOME GUIDELINES FROM YOU IT IS POSSIBLE …I BARELY KNOW ABOUT THIS INDUSTRY BUT STILL I WANT TO TAKE A CHANCE..

    Reply
  8. Hi, Minjung onni Im haresya. I have something to know from you. Hey, I’m nineteen years old now.I want to be a modeler of esteem agency. Hi, will I be able to apply to that agency from my country….. Hi, my height is 169cm, my weight is 40kg. I know Korean language to some extent.I am expecting a reply from you. Can you explain to me how to join the esteem ….. How to know how to sponsor the visa I am ready to write the Korean exam and come to Korea. But I would like if I can go to my goal rather than come to do a job. Here please reply me.

    Reply
    • Hi Haresya,
      You can contact to this email address (esteem_global@esteemgroup.com), which handles overseas inquiries.
      I think it would be wiser to contact them from your country before coming all the way to Korea.
      Since ESteem is a big agency, it should sponsor a visa.
      Best of luck! ^^

      Reply
  9. Thank you so much. Onni I can start my journey from a small place. So after coming to Korea, I will be able to start my journey, right… I’m happy because you replied to me.Now, if I pass the Korean exam and get a job, will I be able to apply to a modeling agency without it?

    Reply
  10. hi i am Mehak i am 15 years old and my height is 155 cm and weight 42 kg but i am so worried that i am short. can i still work as a model in korea.

    Reply
  11. onni 서울에 있는 cm모델 에이전시 연락방법좀 알려주실수 있으신가요……. 개인적으로 신청후 cm에 연락이 안되는건가요…..혼자서 연락하면 비자비용이 얼마나 나오나요? ….. 여기 CM에서 신청하면 비자 지원을 받을 수 있나요?

    Reply
  12. oh….sorry onni cm agency takes guys who are at least 170 tall. so I will not be able to try together. I looked at the ever models agency. There is no such problem. Can you tell me some details about that agency?

    Reply

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