Han, 16, has a Nigerian father in a society where racial discrimination is widespread and people of mixed race are commonly referred to as “mongrels”.
“A dark-skinned fashion model like Han was unheard of in South Korea, so recruiting him was a big gamble,” said agent Youn Bum.
Now Han is posing for top glossy magazines as the country’s first black fashion model.
South Korea has for years sought to foster the image of a modern, sophisticated and tech-savvy nation whose pop culture has made waves across Asia.
But behind the facade of an economic and cultural powerhouse lies a deeply rooted racism – even as its immigrant population creeps up, doubling over the last decade but still only four per cent of the population.