Top Modeling Agencies in South Korea


Top Modeling Agencies  in South Korea

Want to know more about modeling in Korea?

This post covers:

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

Let’s get started!

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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.

Find a modeling agency in Korea that specializes in foreign models. The major ones are listed below.

Step 2.

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 3.

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

Step 4.

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 5.

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

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. 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.).

2. 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.).

3. Ever Models

  • Email: stephen@evermodel.com (Chief Casting Manager)
  • Phone: +82-2-3443-7011
  • Apply to become a model here

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

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. J Model Management

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

8. Hanmaroo Management

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!

8 thoughts on “Top Modeling Agencies in South Korea”

    • 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

Leave a Reply to Dima Tsoy Cancel reply

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