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One of the most popular male models in South Korea, Han Hyun-min, has gotten used to standing out. As the oldest of five children, and the only one who doesn’t speak English, Han grew up in a largely homogeneous Asian society. His mother being from Korea, and his father originally from Nigeria, Han was often made to feel ashamed of the way he looked.  “There are so many prejudices about darker skinned people in South Korea,” he said in an interview with TIME magazine. He remembers how when he was in kindergarten, some of the mothers in the playground would tell his friends, ‘Don’t play with him. If you play with him, you will become darker too.’” But Han, who was discovered on Instagram by a Korean modeling agency when he was 15, has made the best of a difficult situation. Han recognizes many are passed over in casting decisions because of the way they look, but he hopes his rising popularity will help make South Korea’s beauty standards more inclusive. “My dream is now a reality,” he told TIME in his interview, “and I want those like me to feel they can achieve the same.”

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