International casting directors, including Tokyo-based Yoko Narahashi and Susan Shopmaker from the US, talked about the differences in casting practices between their respective territories in a seminar at Pusan on Monday.

Part of the Co-prod PRO and Star Summit Asia programmes, the panel also featured Sung-hye Park from Korean talent management agency SidusHQ and Korean-American actor John Cho, who stars in the Pusan selection West 32nd.

The main topics they discussed were the differences in division of labor in their respective countries, and the particulars of working with international casting.

'In the US, lawyers and agents deal with the contracts and money, with agents casting the wider net for roles, and managers generally take care of the actors - ranging from career choices to hair and make-up,' noted Shopmaker.

'But in Korea and Japan, the talent management company will handle all of that. We're in a transitional state where talent management is going from a very raw thing to very corporate,' said Park.

'The US is also in transitional mode. We're seeing the rise of the managers as they start to produce,' said Cho, who questions whether having managers take on multiple roles is the best thing from an actor's point-of-view in such a large industry as Hollywood.

Narahashi, who helped cast Memoirs Of A Geisha and The Last Samurai, noted that casting directors in Asia need to find actors who can not only act in English, but also bring an Asian cultural element to the film. 'But my role is also to mediate the whole system - helping the filmmakers build up relationships with the actors and communicate for both sides,' she said.

The difference in culture and business practices can also hinder talent and producers from coming together, a problem which the panelists addressed.

'I've made it clear to my management that I want to work in Korea, and that I know business practices are different, so there may be some difficulties and mis-steps, but you have to take the decision to make that extra effort,' said Cho.

'Co-productions need a lot of time and care and work in connecting the sides - not just interpreting the languages, but navigating the invisible space between the two cultures - going back and forth making sure they understand where the others are coming from,' said Narahashi.

'There is definitely a different way of doing business. In Korea, if people meet and their interests match up, a deal can be struck right away, but it seems overseas that more time has to be spent on cultivating trust and confidence in each other. So we have recently started a China branch, and are readying one for Japan and later the US,' said Park, whose company iHQ has stable of more than 100 actors and singers.

Although actors can be big stars in their own territories, that doesn't necessarily translate to big roles in Hollywood films and Park touched upon the value of launching their careers through arthouse films that showcase their talent as well, as in the case of Korean actor Ha Jung-woo starring in the US-Korea co-production Never Forever.