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Hangul 웹툰
Revised Romanization weptun
McCune–Reischauer weptun

Webtoons (Korean: 웹툰), also known as webcomics, were originally created in South Korea; Daum created a webtoon portal in 2003, followed by Naver in 2004.[1] As of July 2014, Naver had published 520 webtoons and launched LINE Webtoon, while Daum had published 434.[2] Daum Webtoon and NAVER Webtoon continuously release on a set schedule from licensed webtoon artists and both of them allow webtoon fans to read new and diverse comics everyday for free.

Among the most popular webtoons are The Gamer, Tower of God, Noblesse, Girls of the Wild's, God of High School, and Soul Cartel.

An interesting thing about Webtoon is authors' and illustrators' diversity. A student, a housekeeper, and even a normal office worker can be a Webtoon author. They can be publish their comics on major Webtoon websites if they are hired or wish to be featured.[3] Some Webtoons have been translated from Korean to English since 2010 by Webtoon Live.[4]


Generation zero[edit]

An example of a generation zero webtoon. Buttons allow turning the page.

Pre-first generation webtoons were scanned original comics uploaded to the Internet. They were formatted in a horizontal layout.[5]

First generation[edit]

The first generation inserted flash effects to enhance existing generation zero comics. Flash animation effects were used to build up a sense of tension. Other comics used zoom-in and Zoom-out functions, often to represent the passage of time.[5]

Second generation[edit]

The second generation adopted a vertical layout. This enhanced cinematic representation, as scrolling allowed the passage of time to be shown naturally. Effects like fading became more common. Due to the development of those techniques, and enhanced preloading, reading became faster and more fluid. This allowed better expression of the author's intent, and lead to the creation of the epic webtoon series of the 2000s.[5]

This is an example of a second generation webtoon.

Third generation[edit]

Third generation webtoons are predicted to take into account the advent of the smartphone, the tablet, wireless networking, and the e-book format. They will likely combine movement, sound, and special effects.[5]


The market for webtoons and their derivatives is currently valued at around 420 billion won ($368 million).[6]

The publishing industry is currently the primary means of comic retail. With the advent of digital comics, offering content online at the same time as comic publication has recently received increasing attention.[7]

Another method of comic content distribution has to be utilized in practice for theater, TV animation, advertising, videos, etc.[7]

One-Source Multi-Use (OSMU) is a marketing method that has been defined as enabling the "free sharing and distribution of single content via the smart device that they have".[8][9] Webtoons are used as a medium for OSMU.[10]

Example of OSMU:

Cultural industries example
Movie Hello, Schoolgirl / 순정만화 (Kang Pool / 강풀), Apart / 아파트 (Kang Pool / 강풀), I Love You / 그대를 사랑합니다 (Kang Pool / 강풀), BA:BO / 바보 (Kang Pool / 강풀), Trace / 트레이스 (Ko Young-hoon / 고영훈), Moss / 이끼 (Yoon Tae-ho / 윤태호), Shin gwa hamkke / 신과함께 (Joo Ho-min / 주호민), Secretly, Greatly / 은밀하게 위대하게 (HUN / 훈), The Neighbors / 이웃사람 (Kang Pool/ 강풀), Fashion King / 패션왕 (Kian84 / 기안84), Killer boonsik / 킬러분식 (Han / 한)
Drama Mary Stayed Out All Night / 매리는 외박중 (Won Soo-yeon / 원수연), Ari-dong last cowboy / 아리동 라스트 카우보이 (Jepigaru / 제피가루), Ssapnida chunrima mart / 쌉니다 천리마 마트 (Kim Gyu-sam / 김규삼), Cheese in the Trap / 치즈인더트랩 (Soonkki / 순끼), Misaeng / 미생 (Yoon Tae-ho / 윤태호)
Game Ragnarok / 라그나로크 (Gravity / 그라비티), Berkanix / 베르카닉스 (Choirock games / 초이락 게임즈)
Animation Wara! pyeoun-i jumb / 와라! 편의점 (Ji Kang-min / 지강민), Miho story / 미호이야기 (Hyejin-yang / 혜진양), Ssapnida chunrima mart / 쌉니다 천리마 마트 (Kim Gyu-sam / 김규삼), Notgi ma jungshin jool / 놓지마 정신줄 (Shin Tae-hoon, Na Seung-hoon / 신태훈, 나승훈)
Musical, Play The Great Gatsby / 위대한 개츠비 (Kang Do-ha / 강도하), Babo / 바보 (Kang Pool), Sunjeong Manhwa / 순정만화 (Kang Pool / 강풀)
Character product Marine Blues / 마린블루스 (Jeong Cheol-yeon / 정철연), Wara! pyeoun-i jumb / 와라! 편의점 (Ji Kang-min / 지강민) / Yangmal Dokkaebi(Manmulsang / 만물상), Oeje, onuel, Kurigo Nail / 어제, 오늘 그리고 내일( Paek Tofu)

Prior to 2014, most webtoons were only available in English through unofficial fan translations. In July 2014, Naver-subsidiary Line began publication of translations of popular webtoons to the English market via the Line Webtoon service.[1][2][11]

Naver, which is Korea’s top search portal, launched its LINE Webtoon service in 2004, and now it has the biggest Webtoon market in Korea. According to NAVER’s official statistics, it has more than 6.2 million daily users using the Webtoon service in Korea, vitalizing Korea’s comic industry. It has now become a new cultural phenomenon as some of the NAVER Webtoons are created as movies and stationery products. As Webtoon started to become popular among foreign fans, NAVER selected 42 cartoons including “Noblesse”, “The God of High School”, and “Tower of God”, and launched free LINE Webtoon translation service for foreign fans in the U.S. and worldwide. As the LINE Webtoon service expands its market to global, widening the range of subscribers, it is now joining the "Korean Wave[Hallyu]."[12][13]


Panel composition[edit]

As the area of the display is limited, the comic does not fit on the screen. Webtoons are not paginated, but instead present their content in a scrollable vertical layout, similar to typical web sites. The precise configuration of the panels is varied, and reflects the personality of the writer.[14]

Framing and repetition[edit]

In contrast to comics with a dense panel composition, scrolling is required to bring new panels into view. This makes webtoons suitable for gradual and continuous representation.[14]

Discussion and feedback[edit]

Most webtoon portals provide the facility for readers to leave comments. This allows writers to receive feedback from their readers. Forms of digital narrative with an exchange of comments can be described as the transition to multi-directional communication.[14]

Service providing site[edit]

The following table lists webtoon portals in Korea:

service name URL Operating entity
Naver webtoon http://comic.naver.com/index.nhn NAVER Corp.
LINE webtoon http://www.webtoons.com/en/ NAVER Corp.
Daum webtoon (World in comics) http://webtoon.daum.net/ Daum communication.Inc
Nate webtoon http://comics.nate.com/main/ SKcommunications
Tstore webtoon http://com.tstore.com/main/ SKcommunications
T tale http://www.ttale.com/ Culture shock.Inc
Lezhin comics http://www.lezhin.com/ Lezhin entertainment.Inc
Olleh market http://webtoon.olleh.com/ KT.Inc
Pikitoon http://pikicast.com/#!/menu=cartoon Pikicast
comico http://comico.toast.com NHN PlayArt

If you want to see a well-organized meta-information of each Webtoon, check the links below.

service name URL Operating entity
Korean Manhwa Kyujang-gak http://www.komacon.kr/dmk/ 한국만화영상진흥원

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Popular Mobile Webcomic Service, LINE Webtoon, Debuts in the United States and Worldwide". PRNewswire. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Tae-jun Kang. "South Korea’s webtoons: going global". Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  3. ^ http://www.webtoons.com/en/about_featured
  4. ^ http://forums.tapastic.com/t/tapastic-acquires-webtoon-live-to-push-mobile-comics/951
  5. ^ a b c d Han, Chang-wan (2012-06-30). 애니메이션 연구6(Animation studies6). 한국 애니메이션 학회(Korean cartoon and animation studies). pp. 124–139. 
  6. ^ "South Korean 'webtoon' craze makes global waves | The Japan Times". The Japan Times (in en-US). Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  7. ^ a b Choi, yun cheol. "2009해외콘텐츠 시장조사(2009 abroad contents market research)". www.kocca.kr. 한국콘텐츠진흥원(Korea creative contents agency). 
  8. ^ http://www.sungshin.ac.kr/website3/english/mirror/175/coverstoryif.html
  9. ^ http://www.sersc.org/journals/IJSH/vol7_no1_2013/1.pdf
  10. ^ http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/jsp/news/reports.jsp?blbdComCd=601008&seq=53&mode=VIEW
  11. ^ "Korea's webtoon market experiences exponential growth over past 10 years". Arirang News. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "LINE Webtoon, Debuts Today in the United States and Worldwide". comicbastards. Press Release. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  13. ^ Song, Jung-Eun; Nahm, Kee-Bom; Jang, Won-Ho (2014). "The Impact of Spread of Webtoon on the Development of Hallyu: The Case Study of Indonesia". 한국엔터테인먼트산업학회논문지 8 (2): 357–367. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  14. ^ a b c 이예리(Lee ye-ri), 이유정(Lee you jung), 이영석(Lee young suk), 《만화의 미학과 문화연구(Cartoon aesthetic and cultural studies) – A study on the definition and impact of the cartoon》, p.21

External links[edit]