Thursday, 1 September 2016

How to Get Your Child into Modeling in Korea

Updated 5 October 2016

 The Professional's Guide to Modeling
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There are many modeling opportunities for children here in Korea. Please know what you are getting into. Just because you may want your child to be a model, doesn't mean they do. You might have to travel for hours and then spend even more hours doing a shoot. It's hard work. Don't believe me? Here's what professional models have to say about modelling. Below you can find information about the legalities as well as suggested agencies that people have worked with in the past.

First off, for a foreigner to work in Korea you need a proper visa or "an activity outside of sojourn" added to your visa. Income must be declared and taxes may have to be paid on the income. If you don't have the proper visa or work without prior permission from immigration (which means you go to immigration and get an "activity outside of sojourn" added to your visa), then you will be working illegally. I know that some agencies will tell you that it's fine and that since it's cash-in-hand or just once in a while or not that much money that it's fine. They're lying.

Don't take my word for it. Call immigration on 1345 during normal business hours (they have a lunch break from 12-1pm) or if you're military you can call Legal. I called both and asked about E2, F3, and A3 visas. See below for other visas. I just asked about these three since they are common. Working on these visas without prior permission (which you get an "activity outside of sojourn" added to your visa) from immigration is illegal. Period.

If you are on your own visa (ex. an E2) and caught working illegally you can be fined and/or deported. If you are a dependent (such as those on A3 or F3 visas,) then both you (or the child, if they are working illegally) and your sponsor can get into trouble. If your sponsor is with the U.S. military and you can caught, this could reflect negatively on your sponsor's career.

What are the actual chances that you will be caught? They're slim. I'll be honest. However, people do get caught. If the agency fudges their numbers and gets caught, or someone turns you in, then you're going to have problems. Many people just get a fine and a slap on the wrist, but I have known people who were faced with deportation. As bad as it sounds, gender and race also play a part. I've known white women and black men who were caught working illegally. The former get off with a small fine and the latter often get larger fines and threatened with deportation.

Children are not the exception to the rule. Just because they are underage does not mean they can work illegally. They can also be fined. Since you are the adult, you also may face consequences.

Visas that Require Permission from Immigration to do Modeling
Here are some visas that need permission from immigration to do something, i.e., modeling, that is outside their visa status. Immigration calls it "an activity outside of your sojourn". This is not a complete list. As mentioned before, contact immigration on 1345 and ask. Do not trust the modeling agency. They are not experts in immigration issues, nor due they issue visas. Immigration is the only place in the entire country that is entirely responsible for visas. The military Legal office isn't a visa expert either. If you are caught working illegally, Legal is not going to be able to get you out of being punished.

In order to get permission for "activities outside your sojourn", you will need to go to immigration and fill out the appropriate paperwork. At the very minimum you will need your passport, alien card (if you have one, and everyone who lives here is legally entitled to an alien card (even SOFA visa holders)), fee, application form, business license from the modeling agency, and contract.
  • A3 SOFA: You are allowed to be a dependent here. That's it. Just because other people do it doesn't make it legal.
  • B2 tourist: for people who have to apply ahead of time, such as Chinese citizens.
  • C3 tourist: given as a VOA (visa on arrival).
  • D2 student: if you fulfill certain requirements you may not need permission from immigration. Contact immigration for more info. 
  • D10 looking for work: you're allowed to look for work, not actually work. Once you get a job you need to get the appropriate visa. This visa is given for a max of 6 months.
  • E1 professor: for those working at a uni that will actually go through the paperwork of getting an E1. Most unis give E2s.
  • E2 language teacher: for those at hagwons, public and private schools, and many unis.
  • F3 spouse of a foreigner: if your spouse is working in Korea you will get this visa. It's like the A3. You're allowed to live here, not work or study.
Visas that Don't Require Permission from Immigration
Here are some visas that don't require you to get permission from immigration to work or study. Keep in mind that you still legally need to declare your income and may have to pay taxes on it.
  • F2 resident: this was for foreigners married to Koreans, but now they get the F6. This is now for people who get enough points or fulfill the requirements to become residents on their own.
  • F4 gyopo: for those of Korean heritage, such as Korean adoptees or children of Korean citizens.
  • F5 permanent resident: for those who have held an F2 or F6 for the specific amount of time.
  • F6 marriage: for those married to Korean citizens.
What's Required to Become a Model
You will need to give certain information to the agency in order for them to keep you in mind for modeling jobs. They will usually ask for the following. . .
  • Name
  • Measurements (for a child this is just their height)
  • Weight
  • Age (remember Korean age is different than Western age. It's often easier to give them the date of birth rather than the age)
  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Visa type
  • Nationality
  • Clothing size
  • Shoe size (Korea uses millimeters. It's very easy. Just measure your child's shoe and round up to the nearest 5 mm.  
  • 3-5 good photos of the child. You might consider getting them taken professionally. Here's a list of photographers who specialise in photos of children. 
  • Contact info, such as email and cell phone
Modeling Agencies
Below are some modeling agencies that foreigners have worked with. You can send your child's information to all of them. There is no exclusively, unless you sign a contract and it states that you can only be with that agency. The more places that have your child's profile, the better the chance they have of getting booked. You can usually apply online through their websites. If that doesn't work, try contacting them on Facebook. Even if their Facebook page hasn't been updated in a while, don't worry. Koreans still haven't really jumped on the Facebook train. All of these places are listed because people have recently worked with them.

4B Film

About International Modeling Agency

Baby and Kids Model
  • A group on Facebook where models and agencies can post. 

Baby Asia

Diva Models
  • Tatiane Choi (casting manager), cell is 010-5146-2606 and kakao is choiane

DOBE Entertainment

JJang Entertainment

MOMA International Modeling Agency

Platinum Management

Sites in Seoul
  • This is not a modeling agency, but many times agents will post here about jobs. 

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