K-WEBTOON & WEBNOVEL
Let’s be honest. You also have that K-Webtoon or Webnovel you fell in love with, right?
K-webtoons and K-webnovels have permeated into the global community. Webtoon Itaewon Class (YOUNG COM) that was made into a popular TV drama this year was exported to Japan as a remake version and movie “Beauty Water” that is based on a webtoon had a brisk start-off in Box Office, Taiwan, ranking first in the first week of its release for the first time in Korean animation history. Apart from these achievements, K-webtoons and webnovels are made into movies or TV dramas across borders, with secondary content such as goods and special exhibitions produced for their fans. In particular, many of the beloved works are officially published as paper books. Join us on the journey into the charms of K-webtoons and webnovels that make you want to see them time to time again.
K-Webtoons and webnovels are being exported across the world through webtoon applications that service translations in different languages.
I shall not miss the next episode! - K-Webtoon
Korean comics ushered in a new era of changes through the Internet from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The platform of the K-webtoon market has been transforming based on online portals since the mid-2000s and has grown into the market that is being loved by readers across the world. President Moon Jae-in of Korea wore a mask with a webtoon character drawn on it marking Cartoon Day on November 3rd, which has drawn attention as well. He mentioned the current status of the rapidly growing K-webtoon market, saying, “Webtoons are being recognized as the ‘New Hallyu (Korean Wave)’ that represents K-content.”
Tower of God (YOUNG COM) with 4.5 billion worldwide views in total is a webtoon that is serialized every Monday on Naver, a Korean portal website, since 2010. It is about Baam, the main protagonist, climbing to the top of the tower in search of his best friend, Rachel. The comics have been on an indefinite hiatus since June, but it has been keeping first place among other competitive webtoons released on Monday, maintaining good marks from readers before then. Its huge popularity backed the joint production of the animation “Tower of God” by Korea, the US, and Japan. This bears a significant meaning as it was the first time in history that global content industries have actively participated in the production and distribution of a movie that is based on a webtoon. The animation, as soon as its first episode was released, drew explosive popularity, ranking as the 9th most trending issue on Twitter in the United States.
Odd Girl Out (Onda) by Morangji is a story about a warm-hearted girl. Nari meets friends who seemed perfect on the outside but actually were feeling lonely inside, and they go through several incidents together and become real friends. It is a Monday webtoon featuring the friendship of 17-year-old girls. It was made into a web-drama in Korea, and with pop-idols taking the main roles while rolling out stories that peer kids can relate to, it proved the current popularity of the cartoon. New episodes of webtoon Odd Girl Out are steadily updated, so if you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out!
Meanwhile, Yumi’s Cells (Wisdom House) is a webtoon full of many charming points that features the story of cells living inside the main protagonist Yumi. Apart from the Hungry Cell who controls appetite and Love Cell, which is the prime cell in the group, all the adorable cells, including the Emotional Cell, Rational Cell, Blabbing Cell, Hysterious, and the Inner Peace Corps, work hand in hand for Yumi in their unique way. After five years and seven months, the series has wrapped up at the end of October this year. The comics were made into a game for its fans to play, and even opened a special exhibition. If you are curious about what the cells in our body are doing, how about you start reading an episode or two of Yumi’s Cells which is full of imagination?
Tower of God, Odd Girl Out, Yumi’s Cells
Please continue! - Webnovels
Webnovels that offer different entertaining factors to imagine and read depending on the style of the writers are also one of the contents that people pay attention to alongside webtoons. Webnovels are in a complementary relationship with webtoons, and many webtoons are based on webnovels in Korea.
“Yes, I accept the divorce. And I request approval of my remarriage.” Webnovel The Remarried Empress (Happy Books 2U), a representative novel in “Series,” an online webnovel platform serviced by Naver, is a hot property with 70 million cumulated downloads up to date. As a romantic comedy about a not-so-normal story where the emperor requests to be divorced after falling in love with a slave, and the protagonist empress Navier declares to be remarried to the emperor of the neighboring empire. The independent personality of the empress who paves her own way instead of fighting to be loved by the emperor is thought to be the driver behind the novel’s popularity. The webnovel and the webtoon version are both ongoing and are recommended to webtoon beginners as the storyline and plot are well-organized.
Gwanghae’s Lover (Siganyeohaeng) is a romance novel about a love story that unfolds as Gyeongmin, a time-traveling girl, meets crown prince Gwanghaegun who came over from Joseon during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Since the first episode in 2013, its highly-immersive story, delicate sentences, and the doleful love story have been the spices adding to its popularity, making it one of the romance history webnovels steadily beloved by readers until today. It began to be serialized in Naver Webtoon recently, raising the expectations of readers looking for another fresh, charming story.
Another popular webnovel Justice (Hainaim) is the best example of a webnovel turning into a TV drama. It is a thriller where a corrupt lawyer, the protagonist who had a deal with a devil for revenge, meets a man who has become the devil himself to save his family and dig up the behind-the-scenes of VVIPs in Korea amidst the socially shocking news where actresses are going missing one by one. It is a completed series rated 9.9 out of 10 in Korea. The novel was made into a TV drama backed by its popularity, where it overpowered other dramas airing on Wednesday and Thursday. Take a glimpse at it, and you will never be able to put it away until you finish it.
The Remarried Empress, Gwanghae’s Lover, Justice
You can find K-webtoons pretty much everywhere – from specialized platforms run by big companies to webtoon-only websites, personal blogs, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Golden Age of K-Webtoons & Webnovels
Unlike how webtoonists are highly recognized these days, their environment and treatment back in the 1990s were very poor, establishing the idea that cartoonists in Korea are bound to starve. However, K-webtoons and webnovels are enjoying a rosy time as computers and the Internet have become common, and IT technologies and platforms have developed. Recently, they are being called the “goose that lays golden eggs” as the leader of secondary content using the “one-source, multi-use” method that aims for the ripple effect of one source being adopted to other genres.
Book Era of Webtoons (RH Korea) is an interview collection written by journalist Wi Geun-Woo. It contains interviews he had with young webtoonists who jump across genres from movies to novels and dramas with their original webtoons. It features the struggles and values of active webtoonists today, including Cho Seok, Lee Mal-Nyun, Jeong Da-Jeong, Super Pink, Ha Il-Kwon, Kian 84, and Miti – all representative webtoonists of Korea.
Pretty much everyone might have thought of making a webtoon, especially if they have been impressed by a webtoon or webnovel such as Misaeng (The Origin), Along with the Gods (Anibooks), and Goodbye, Mom (Gobooki Books). The book Webtoon School (Sigongsa) is for those that want to become a webtoonist and draw webtoons but do not know where to begin or got stuck in limbo while plotting a story. It is a good guide to understanding webtoons and stories, providing help for how to look at the world through webtoons and why you want to create one.
Guaranteed Tips for Webnovels (Wisdom House) is written by webnovel writer Sankyung, in the middle of immense popularity with her The Youngest Son of Sunyang (KW Books), where she shares numerous thoughts and know-how she learned as a webnovel writer. It introduces how to survive in the webnovel market along with how-to-succeed tips, finding the source for the story, setting, characters, gathering materials, plotting, and rules to follow when serializing your work.
Era of Webtoons, Webtoon School, Guaranteed Tips for Webnovels
According to the trend analysis report on the content industry for the year 2020 and the second half of 2019 announced by the Korea Creative Content Agency, the export volume of Korean comics, including K-webtoons was 45.98 million dollars, which is a 13.6% rise from the previous year. It is to be hoped that the steadily growing K-webtoon and webnovel industry become mega popular across the world as leaders of the new Korean Wave and enable them to be commonly found in global citizens’ daily life.
Written by Lee Ji-Hyeon