So you’ve seen the latest episode of Non-Summit (비정상회담) and you ask yourself how did these people get on TV? Or you watched your favourite K-Drama and wonder why the foreign actors are so bad? Believe it or not, it is actually much simpler than you would imagine to get on TV in Korea.
Whether it be drama’s, entertainment programs or even guest appearances on news programs there are a wealth of opportunities for Non-Koreans in Korea to get there face on TV and other media outlets. Many of the foreign ‘actors’ you see on Korean TV are just everyday people with the right visa and the right amount of free time! In my 4 years in Korea, I experienced a plethora of media opportunities – from acting as an extra in dramas to a recurring role on a talk show.
I have compiled a list of resources which I used to find these opportunities!
Where to look for opportunities?
Believe it or not but Craigs List is a great resource to find modelling and TV jobs in Korea. Just by searching you will see a numerous amount of adverts asking for various nationalities to take part in a photo shoot as a promotional model, as a Drama extra or as a guest on a TV show. Just click here and see! Use your own discretion as to whether or not you feel it is a safe and legitimate opportunity. If you are not too keen on contacting over Craigslist you can always use the email/name from the advert and do some of your own online research.
Yonsei Korean Language Institute Jobs Board
Students often have access to a wide variety of TV / Modelling opportunities. This “free board” has access to arguably the best opportunities for Korean speaking foreigners. Students usually have the most flexible hours as many Drama’s and TV shows do their recording during the day and in remote areas (meaning you will have to take a day or two off school!) If you can’t find anything on the job board then be sure to hang out around the front gate at Yonsei Korean Language Institute, there are TV crews on campus from time to time scouting for some foreign talent or looking to do an interview!
If you have seen a TV show in Korea that featured foreigners than make sure you visit the TV show’s website online! Most if not all of these shows will have a forum section under which you can send in a post to say that you would like to appear on the show, more often than not you will get a response via email asking for your photo’s and resume! This is how I managed to get on the short lived Chosun TV show “Hello Hello” – alternatively message them on social media; you will be surprised at the responses from ‘cold calling’
If you manage to find a job from the above sources then you will more than likely have a minder/manager for the day. This person is a low level agent but they will be your connection to other jobs in the future as these agencies are regularly used to provide foreigners. So don’t forget to get the details of the agent assigned to look after you for the day and be sure to be friendly; a general rule of thumb for anything in Korea is if someone asks you to go out for a drink – then do it! If you are ever on a talk/entertainment program then a good strategy is to become friends with the writers – often young girls in their 20’s, These girls control the script and the amount of air time -the more they like you the more lines they will give you.
Pay and Other Important Information
As a model or an extra, you can expect to receive anywhere from between 100,000 KRW / Day up to 300,000 KRW per appearance. On a talk show or entertainment program like “hello hello” which is an actual guest appearance then you will likely receive around 300,000 KRW. Sometimes if it is just a short segment then you will only get a gift voucher. Now be aware that as a student; or even as an E7 working visa you are technically not allowed to receive pay for your TV appearances. There is a reason most foreign celebrities are married to a Korean – without a temporary resident visa there are limited options in terms of working ‘legally’ on television. In fact, if any foreigner has been on TV regularly for over a year it generally means that either they have been married/currently married or their agency has found them a visa via a loophole.
That said there are of course multiple ways around the system. As I stated before I had a recurring role on a TV show despite also having a full-time job. As such, I did not receive any pay (directly) instead money was transferred into a friends account. Most part-time extra roles/guest appearances you will be paid without the smoke and mirrors but for anything that is constant; like in the case of Non-Summit (비정상회담) then they will have to do some creative accounting to ensure you get paid. Please be aware that TV appearances are at your own risk – being in the public eye will mean that when it comes time to renew your student visa / E7 / Working holiday then you may be subject to more scrupulous investigation.
Working hours are usually early in the morning on a weekday. especially for dramas with tough schedules. Depending on the shoot you can expect to be there for 2 – 4 hours including travel time. Another issue is naturally a lot of the filming is done out of Seoul to avoid crowds and hence you will be travelling in a van for an hour or more to most sites.
Opportunities are not limited to TV and I also had chances to be in magazine interviews, promotional photos for products/companies, newspaper articles, and radio interviews.
Below is a short of the TV show “Hello Hello” where you can see me stealing a kiss from comedian Juri Jung (정주리)
Click on other useful feature articles to get more insider tips and tactics to find jobs in South Korea:
- How to write a Korean resume
- How to get TV and modelling jobs in Korea? Finding media & entertainment opportunities in Korea
- Our top tips to land an internship in Korea
- Applying for a job in Korea – What you need to know
- Korean company hierarchy, structure and business titles
- Korean company salary structure and average wages
- Korean over time and why Korea has the second longest working hours in the OECD
- Your Guide to Teaching ESL in Korea
- Korea’s OASIS Start-up Visa Program for foreigners
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