SM Entertainment welcomes first batch of students at SM Universe Academy

The specialised school will train teenagers interested in an entertainment career

K-pop group Super Junior are one of SM Entertainment's most well-known boy bands. Reuters
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Do you have dreams of becoming South Korea’s next big star?

It could now become a reality thanks to SM Entertainment’s newly launched SM Universe Academy in Gangnam, Seoul, which has just welcomed its first students.

The school aims to offer specialised training to teenagers interested in different aspects of the Korean entertainment industry such as acting or dance through a three-year programme that will also have students take classes to study for their GED in lieu of a high school degree. A GED is the equivalency of high school and based on four subjects tests (language arts, maths, social students and science).

There are five majors currently being offered: producing, vocals, dance, modelling and acting. Each major has a capacity for 20 students, except for the vocals major which has capacity for 40, meaning that every semester, the academy will only accept 120 students but will also consider applicants from abroad.

It does, however, come at a price. Tuition for the vocals major is 10 million Korean won per term (about $7,650), while tuition for all other majors is 8.8 million Korean won ($6,733).

On the SM Universe Academy website, eligibility was open to those born between 2006 and 2009, had a middle school diploma, and complied with the training regulations of SM Universe, as well as passed an audition process. Applicants also had to submit a self-introduction essay of at least 500 words on why they wanted to apply for SMU, along with their future dreams and goals.

The next enrolment will take place in September, with an audition process sometime in July or August.

"SM Universe is a total arts educational institution under the vision of ‘Beyond Your Dream’," reads a statement on the school's website by its dean Jong Hwa-hong. "We will support you until the end so that you can grow into a global artist, along with your burning passion, integrity, and positive influence to the world."

SM Entertainment is one of South Korea’s biggest entertainment agencies, with K-pop acts Exo, BoA, Super Junior and Girls’ Generation among its current list of acts.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 2:39 PM