Up-and-coming actress Jung Joo Yeon
Jang Hyuk Danny Ahn L.Joe (Teen Top)
Moon Hee Jun Lee Soo Hyuk
Jang Hyuk, Moon Hee Jun from H.O.T., Danny Ahn from g.o.d., Lee Soo Hyuk and L.Joe from Teen Top. What do these people have in common? Yes, they’re all pretty good-looking! But they’ve also all been trained at C.A.S.T. by iHQ (referred to as CAST from now on).
Stairs leading up to the third floor
CAST stands for Casting Audition & Star Training. Located on the main street of Rodeo Drive in Apgujeong, this fairly new acting school is where many stars come to hone their acting skills. (Song Joong Ki, below, is a current student!) But don’t’ be scared! CAST is open to anybody who wants to learn how to act (or sing or dance)! The curriculum – which many top actors and actresses have learned through – is the same for both trainees and non-trainees. You may remember this year’s Soompi Ulzzang Contest, in which was sponsored by SidusiHQ. We are excited to tell you that Sidus has announced that after reviewing the photos and profiles of the winners and first runners-up, Sidus will be doing review phone calls with both the boys’ and girls’ winners and first runner ups!
Screen capture of Song Joong Ki on the CAST website
The first and second floors of the CAST building are actually a café called Caffé Bene. Why is that, you ask? CAST is run by the Academy BiZ Team of iHQ – the company that also owns Sidus HQ. (Most of you might have heard of Sidus HQ as the company that Jay Park signed with!) And to bring it full circle, Caffé Bene has a partnership with iHQ ! (If you ever take a trip to Korea, you’ll notice that there are a ton of Caffé Benes all around Seoul. However, the Caffé Bene in Apgujeong is the only one that CAST holds offices in.)
View of Caffé Bene & CAST building
The basement, second, and third floors of the building are where you can find the CAST offices and practice rooms. On the day of my visit, I was only able to see the practice rooms on the third floor. The rooms in the basement were being used for acting and dance practice! (Unfortunately, I couldn’t see anybody in the room. Who knows – there could’ve been an up and coming celebrity in there!^^)
CAST, although an acting school, offers a variety of different classes. You can take dance classes, singing classes, camera acting classes (to learn about things like the editing process of movies and TV shows), and even Pansori (a unique, traditional style of Korean music).
Snapshots of some of the classes at CAST
So who teaches at CAST? After all, they are the ones who make the school what it is. Teachers at CAST range from independent film directors to established actors, such as Ahn Hyuk Mo. Ahn Hyuk Mo is a veteran who has been acting for over 20 years now and has been teaching for 14. He has worked with top stars, such as Jang Hyuk and Kim Sun Ah and Jo In Sung.
Teacher and Actor Ahn Hyuk Mo
In a conversation with Mr. Ahn, I asked him, what makes CAST different from other acting schools? He told me that CAST “prepares students to debut”. This doesn’t mean that CAST guarantees a contract or even a casting in a movie – it means that CAST can give you the tools to get that contract or role in a movie. In addition, the teachers are highly invested in the students. At the end of each course, the teachers will hold one-on-one conferences with each student to talk about what went well, what didn’t go so well, goals, obstacles, and so on and so forth. Even during the course, the teachers and students communicate after every class through an online journal. Students write their reflections, questions, or comments in these journals the teachers respond to each entry.
At this point you might be thinking, I want to take a class at CAST! Well, you can! However, please note that all of the classes are taught in Korean, which means you must be comfortable with the Korean language.
Also, CAST is looking for people who really want it. The CAST curriculum is made to teach acting as a career, not just as a hobby. The curriculum is also made to help people improve on things like speaking and presentation skills, and to help boost confidence. Before you enroll, there is a small testing procedure. But don’t worry! It’s just a level test. 🙂
Want more information about CAST by iHQ? Visit their website at www.casthq.co.kr. (Note: The website is only available in Korean at the moment. However, feel free to leave questions and comments in English!)
And if you’re ever in Rodeo Drive in Apgujeong, make sure to visit Caffé Bene! They have delightfully delicious coffees, teas, gelato, waffles, and more! Open from 8:00AM to 2:00AM, they offer a book café and meeting rooms. And if you become a Caffé Bene member, you can borrow umbrellas and laptops, too!
Some of the yummy drinks and desserts offered at Caffé Bene!