[Hallyupedia] Webtoon(웹툰)

연합뉴스 / 기사승인 : 2021-04-24 07:00:41
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by Yun Ji Hyun / Cha Min Kyung

[ENG] Webtoon

Webtoon is a word comprised of two words, web and cartoon, which refers to online and mobile-only cartoons that are published serially on online platforms in Korea, including Naver and Daum. The word 'webtoon' was made in Korea and is used overseas to refer to Korean internet comics.


▲ This captured screen from Naver's Webtoon app shows all the webtoons in a vertical format fit for smartphones. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)


▲ The growth in webtoon markets
Webtoons began to emerge as mobile technology was incorporated into cartoons. It was in the early 2000s when the current vertical scroll format began to be applied to webtoons.

▲ These three pictures shows the logo for each webtoon portals from (left) Daum, Naver, and Lezhin. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


The vertical scroll format was first designed for people to view on PCs, however as smartphones became popular around 2010, the format has become more suitable for smartphones.

The origin of webtoon was S.Korean artist Kang Full's "Hello, Schoolgirl (순정만화)," which became widely popular in 2003. Since then, various genres of work have been published, increasing the number of subscribers day by day as well.

The Korean comic industry started adapting to the online and mobile era relatively early compared to the overseas comic market.

Daum launched webtoons in 2003 and Naver in 2004, while Japan, which is considered as the powerhouse of cartoons, started to provide online and mobile services for cartoons in 2010.

During the initial stages of webtoons on online platform, the digital comics were published free of charge on Naver and Daum. Since then, Lezhin Comics and other webtoon portals have launched paid webtoon services.

At that time, making small mobile payments became popular, allowing the paid webtoon portals to settle down in the cartoon market safely.

Webtoons are also growing steadily in the global market. Naver Webtoon, which started its service in the U.S. in 2014 and later in the global market, is currently ranked No.1 in cartoon app revenue in more than 100 countries. Kakao's Japanese webtoon platform, Piccoma, ranked No.1 in global cartoon app sales last year.

Naver and Kakao, S.Korea's two largest internet companies, are also actively investing in mergers and acquisitions of foreign companies to solidify their position in the rapidly growing webtoon market.

▲ Drama and movie adaptations of webtoons
Recently, dramas and films have been inspired by many different webtoons. The storyline from webtoons are often produced in movies or dramas rather than animations.

The reason why webtoons are attracting attention in the global market is that they not only provide comics that are suited to mobile screens, but also because of their creative and quirky storylines.

The dramatization of webtoons officially began around 2012. In the case of movies, several works by artist Kang Full, who had many structured stories, were targeted to become movies, and other webtoons such as "Moss" and "Secretly, Greatly" were also turned into films, which drew great attention.


Writer Joo Ho-min's "Along with the Gods" surpassed 10 million viewers, making it the most successful webtoon film.


▲ The photo provided by CJ ENM on the left shows the drama poster for "Misaeng" while the captured photo on Baidu on the right shows the Chinese remake version of the same drama. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

S.Korean artist, Yoon Tae-ho's "Misaeng," which was produced as a drama in 2014, became a popular drama nationwide, and was even remade in China.

Recently, the release of dramas reflecting the original webtoon stories have literally been pouring out.


▲ These two photos provided by Daum Webtoon and OCN respectively shows (left) the cover art for the webtoon "The Uncanny Counter" and (right) the drama version of "The Uncanny Counter." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


Dramas that aired last year, including, "True Beauty," "The Uncanny Counter," "Backstreet Rookie," "Mystic Pop-up Bar," "Dinner Mate," "Itaewon Class," and "Navillera" and "Taxi Driver," are all based on webtoons.


▲ These pictures provided by Lotte Entertainment, tvN, and JTBC shows the movie and drama posters for "Along with the Gods," "True Beauty," and "Itaewon Class" respectively. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

As webtoons spread throughout the content market, they are now considered to be the next-generation content responsible for the future of the Korean Wave, along with dramas, K-pop and online games.



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