As the global influence of Korean culture grows, Korean skincare and beauty brands have found their way into households worldwide. K-pop has become a global phenomenon, and K-dramas are dominating everyone’s watchlists! The Korean fashion industry is keeping pace in this global expansion. Since Seoul Fashion Week’s debut in the fashion industry in 2011, Korean fashion models are becoming some of the most coveted faces in the fashion industry.
Whether on national or international runways, Korean fashion models outshine their competition. They expertly showcase their unique styles, featuring their favorite outfits and brands. Their unique fashion sense is widely proven beyond the runway in their everyday lives.
Korean fashion models are also gaining more diverse opportunities on international runways, leading many of them to build a large global fandom. They are becoming faces of global brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Korean fashion models are also appearing in ad campaigns for international brands, Vogue, and W, to name a few.
Many models have diversified their careers, becoming top singers, actresses, and even authors, proving they are much more than just pretty faces!
Join us on an exhilarating fashion journey as we spotlight trailblazing Korean fashion models. Not only have these ladies dominated the runway, but they’ve also made head-turning appearances in film and television. Strut with us down this virtual runway!
Here comes the list of some of the most captivating Korean fashion models who’ve turned heads in the world of style. Each of them has a unique story of reaching the top and continues to inspire fashion enthusiasts worldwide with their unparalleled style and grace.
Irene Kim (아이린)
A gem in the Korean fashion world, Irene Kim set herself apart before she even stepped onto the runway. An alumna of the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology’s textile design program in New York, Kim sparkles with an individualistic allure. This Chanel ambassador isn’t just a pretty face – she’s also a hardcore Dior, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana enthusiast and a buddy to celebs like BTS’ J-Hope and singer-songwriter Jessica Jung. She is a supermodel in the Korean fashion industry who has been gracing runways since 2012. If edgy outfits and unicorn hair are your thing, you’re sure to love Irene. In 2018, Irene established her own fashion line IRENEISGOOD, one of the firsts for any of the Korean fashion models.
Lee Sung Kyung (이성경)
Meet Lee Sung Kyung, the “Asian Gigi Hadid,” according to W Magazine. A flourishing actress who once ruled the modeling scene, Lee has captured over 11.8 million hearts on Instagram. With her striking looks and an array of talents from dancing to piano playing, Lee is a star in her own right. Debuting in 2008, Lee has become one of South Korea’s most successful models-turned-actresses-slash-singers. Her swagger made her a favorite amongst streetwear and menswear brands. Fun fact: She was bestowed with the title of the best female fashion model of the year at the CFDK awards in 2014. Later she gained massive attention thanks to her lead role in the drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo. Shiseido, Chanel and Moncler are some of the brands which she models for, among many others. Her most recent shows include Dr. Romantic and Shooting Stars.
Park Soo-joo (박수주)
Fashion fiends can’t help but fall for Park Soo-joo, the edgy Korean fashion model. She’s got several firsts to her name, including being the inaugural Korean spokesmodel for L’Oréal and walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite starting her modeling journey a tad late at 26, Soo Joo has left an indelible mark in the industry. After going platinum blonde, she grabbed the attention of Chanel and Tom Ford, among other brands. She has walked for Fendi, Vivienne Westwood, Loewe, and, more recently, Moschino and Versace. Fun fact: She was handpicked by Karl Lagerfeld himself to open the Chanel Cruise 2015-16 show in Seoul!
Choi So-ra (최소라)
Winner of Korea’s Next Top Model Season 3, Choi So-ra stunned the world when she debuted at the Louis Vuitton show in 2014. As the first Korean model, she was signed as the brand’s city exclusive for Paris Fashion Week in 2016. She walked more than 50 shows around the world in 2017. Despite her rise to fame being temporarily slowed down due to visa issues, she’s now a common sight in global ad campaigns for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Dior, and many others. She can showcase a variety of facial expressions, making her stand out among other Korean fashion models. Bonus: she’s known for her striking goth look and awesome street style, which is a hit among her followers. As one of the most in-demand models of her generation, she has recently joined a list of the most influential names in fashion, the Business of Fashion’s BOF 500.
Jung Ho-yeon (정호연)
Ever heard of Squid Game? Of course, you have! Who hasn’t? But did you know that Jung Ho-yeon, who played Kang Sae-byeok, was first a model before she turned into an acting sensation? That’s right! Jung Ho-yeon has strutted her stuff on numerous runways for brands like pushBUTTON, Gee Chun-Hee, Steve J & Yoni P, and Lucky Chouette at Seoul Fashion Week before she signed exclusive contracts with Louis Vuitton in 2017 and shot to global stardom. She also became the global ambassador of Louis Vuitton, wearing the brand at the Met Gala and red carpet events. Not just this, post her Squid Game run, she once became the most-followed Korean female actress on Instagram!
The Squid Game star also walked Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2023 show recently and became the Global Ambassador for the brand. She is also a Lancôme Global Ambassador and was selected as one of the 2023 young actors representing the present and future of Hollywood by Vanity Fair. Her most recent accolades include being a winner of the 2022 SAG Award for Best Actress for her role in Squid Game.
Shin Hyun-ji (신현지)
Shin Hyun-ji, the winner of Korea’s Next Top Model Season 4, is another name you can’t ignore in the world of Korean fashion models. With an international modeling career that took off at the 2016 S/S New York Fashion Week, Shin has walked for several brands like Prada and Miu Miu and has become a top Asian model. Chanel, Valentino, and Loius Vuitton were amongst the 42 shows she walked in the 2018 F/W season.
Chanel, a brand famous for not using Asian models in the past, gave her the title “the first Asian Chanel model” in 2015, and she appeared in the 2016 F/W show for the first time. She became the first Asian model to close out the main Chanel show in the 2020 F/W season and the first one to do so for the Chanel 2024 S/S Haute Couture show. Oh, and did we mention she is besties with Blackpink’s Jennie?
Jang Yoon-ju (장윤주)
Starting her career in 1997, Jang Yoon-ju is a legend in the Korean fashion scene. Her classic Asian features, coupled with her unique body line and catwalk skills, quickly made her the most popular model in South Korea. Besides modeling, this multi-talented lady is also a singer-songwriter and an author and has even hosted Korea’s Next Top Model! Her work has been recognized at national and international levels, with the Fashion Photographers Best Model Award in 1998, 2002, and 2005. Even as an actress, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best New Actress at the Grand Bell Awards for Veteran, a 2015 film. You would have also seen her in the hit Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area!
Han Hye-jin (한혜진)
Meet Han Hye-jin, a name that represents the ideal in high fashion. This first-generation Korean model has been famous for her unique runway walk, expressions, pose, and charisma. It earned her spots on major shows like Marc Jacobs for six consecutive seasons, and she became the first Korean model in Gucci, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger. Notably, she was the first Asian model at the Anna Sui show to walk the finale! Han’s fame skyrocketed even further after appearing in the reality TV show “I Live Alone.”
Lee Ho-jung (이호정)
Standing at the helm of the Korean fashion industry is the radiant Lee Ho-jung. The 26-year-old didn’t let her initial struggles with height deter her ambitions. With a surprising growth spurt, she seized the limelight as a teen model in the highly coveted Ceci magazine, debuting on the runway for the 2012 F/W collection. Her Instagram is a feast for fashion enthusiasts, flaunting splendid outfits from revered brands like Acne Studios, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Celine, Chopard, and some delightful Korean fashion labels. Guess what? Our darling Lee has dipped her toes in the world of acting too! Catch her impactful performance as a university art student exploring deeper emotions with her best friend in the K-drama Nevertheless’!
Esom, born Lee So Young, is an experienced model, a true fashion icon, and one of the most stylish Korean actresses out there. What sets her apart is her unique ability to carry various fashion styles effortlessly. And it’s not just about her excellent height and slim figure – it’s that enigmatic aura she brings to the catwalk that leaves viewers spellbound.
Song Kyung-a (송경아)
Next up, we’ve got Song Kyung-a, a textbook editorial queen with a mesmerizing portfolio. Notorious for her unique mix of Asian and Western aesthetics, she conquered the Korean fashion industry with her tall stature and refreshing personality. She is also acclaimed to be the first Korean female model to work in the international fashion industry. Despite initial difficulties finding success overseas due to the lack of demand for Asian models, she stood strong and managed to feature in the Armani show. If you wanted some drama in a single photo, Kyung-a was the one who broke down the conventions.
Hyoni Kang (강승현)
Our next spotlight falls on the vibrant Kang Seung-hyun, better known as Hyoni Kang. Her modeling career took off when she clinched the Ford’s Model of the World title in 2008 at the tender age of 19. Unlike her contemporaries, Hyoni flaunted her distinct round features and chose the commercial route over high fashion. This decision has certainly paid off, with Hyoni becoming one of the most well-known Korean fashion models on the global runway. She is also acclaimed as an actress, TV show host, and film director.
Shin Min-ah (신민아)
Shin Min-ah is another household name in the league of top Korean fashion models. Embarking on her modeling journey at the young age of 14, she’s since carved out a remarkable niche for herself in the industry. Not just a model, Shin Min-ah made her way into acting in 2001, and we all know how that story unfolded – with a star-studded career including shows like ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha,’ ‘My Girlfriend is a Gumiho,’ and ‘Oh My Venus.’
Jun Ji-hyun (전지현)
Last but certainly not least, meet the incomparable Jun Ji-hyun. One of the most recognizable faces in South Korea, she’s been the muse for several prestigious fashion magazines. Starting her modeling journey in 1997, Jun Ji-hyun rocketed to fame after a Samsung MyJet printer commercial. For her leading role in My Sassy Girl (2001), she became the “nation’s first love” and “Korea’s sweetheart.” Since then, Jun Ji-hyun has been unstoppable, taking the global fashion world by storm and becoming American Vogue’s first Korean ambassador. And get this – she was the highest-paid Korean celebrity in 2021, bagging a jaw-dropping US$14.7 million!
These Korean fashion models are setting the world ablaze with their extraordinary fashion sensibilities and winning personalities. They’ve challenged norms, defied stereotypes and are redefining the future of Korean fashion. Keep an eye on these style mavens as they continue to break barriers and set new trends. And, if you’re not already following them, what are you waiting for?