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My Experience As An International Model in South Korea

As a model, every contract you go on is extremely different, even returning to the same country in a new season will be a whole new experience. My first contract was in Seoul, South Korea. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but I was extremely excited. Every aspect of this trip was going to be new for me, since it was my first, but I had been anticipating this for years. I left for my trip just two weeks after I graduated from high school so it was a very bittersweet moment for me. I missed out on my final summer at home and had to say goodbye to everyone I knew and everything I was used to. It was definitely very hard but I knew it was the right move for me. I just had to jump. I was lucky enough that my family was coming with me so it helped me a lot. I can’t imagine having had to do it all alone, even though most girls do. So the four of us packed up our house and off we went!

First day on the streets of Seoul

Since it was my first trip I had no idea what to expect, especially on the modelling front. In my experience, model trips can be divided into two categories; modelling and tourism. The experiences differ a lot contract to contract and can affect your opinion of a country a lot. Modelling wise, Korea wasn’t my best experience. I wasn’t living in the model’s apartment, I was with my family so I didn’t really make any friends. As I have learned, the friends you make are the most pivotal part of any placement. My Korean agency was in a big transition period and since I wasn’t living in the apartment it kind of felt like I was forgotten a bit. The communication was rough and since I was new to this I wasn’t sure what to do or who to ask. The ability to communicate with agencies and bookers is extremely important and I slowly had to learn how to push myself, and I think if I had done it more maybe the experience would’ve been different. I went to my first ever castings which was good because I got to learn and improve my understanding of castings but I did not book any work while I was there. The Korean market is one with a lot of castings but by the end of my contract I was getting only one per week, so my chances to even book work were pretty slim. After some discussions with my mother agency, we decided it was best to cut this contract short and move on to the next place. This is common if a model is unsuccessful in a market during their season, not wanting to waste anyone’s time or money. I was sad but it was the right choice, although I really hope to go back someday!

BTS from a bridal casting

On the other side of this trip was my actual experience of living in Korea. Since I was living with my family, I had the ability to travel around and see the country with people I knew so it was not as intimidating. My family was there to visit so they really wanted to travel around and experience Korea, while as models sometimes we don’t bother because we are alone and focused on work. I can get shy and anxious to go places alone, so having people with me made it much easier to go and try new things. We tried a lot of local foods, travelled out of the city to visit the DMZ, and found a lot of local and touristy areas to explore. I became very familiar with using public transport, where to eat, places I enjoyed hanging out, and good places to shop. By the end of my trip me and my mom knew exactly what we wanted to do with our free time, and how to best spend our time. I really got comfortable living in that culture and I understood it. I quickly grew to love it. This experience was different from any other country I’ve been to, because I got to see and understand more of Korea than I have in any other countries. I really fell in love with the country, which is one reason I want to go back so much. Korea really is an amazing country and I would recommend visiting if you ever get the opportunity.

My favourite pho we found in Itaewon

Me and my mom got a film camera to take some memories

With each contract comes a lot of growth. By the end of every three months it is like shedding a new skin and learning a whole lot of new things about yourself. This was the first of many of these new starts for me. I gained a much better understanding of how being a model on placement looks. What castings are like, meeting people from other countries, and even living on my own, since I spent a few days alone before I left for my next contract. I became comfortable commuting alone, eating alone, solving problems on my own, and just generally being independent. I already believed I was independent but this was completely different. I even ended the trip having to fly by myself, which was a first. I learned that sometimes things don’t always go as we hoped, but that doesn’t make me a bad model, it just wasn’t my season. Overall, this trip was the catalyst for me in a lot of ways, and I wouldn’t be who I am now without that experience, and I don’t know if I could’ve continued travelling alone without this first trip going the way that it did.

Celebrated an early birthday with my mom

Although the actual experience as a model wasn’t ideal on this trip, it was overall a great experience, and one I hold dear in my memories. I spent a very special time with my family, learned a lot of new lessons, and managed to get myself halfway across the world. I am forever grateful for every second I spent in Korea and I really hope I get the opportunity to return, perhaps the modelling side will be different the next time around. Until next time,

Sammie Taylor

Me and mom found some Korean photo booths

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