Korean webtoons acknowledged in Japan and the world
Solo Leveling, a webtoon available on the comic platform, Piccoma of Kakao Japan was named the best webtoon of 2019, securing a cumulative 1 million readers. The monthly transactions reached about 1.1 billion won and in the fourth quarter, Piccoma finally achieved a business profit surplus for the first time in Japan. In the fever of Japanese readers’ huge interest, Korean webtoons have been drawing attention in Japan and the newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun (The Nikkei) began to intensely report that South Korea’s pop culture content has recently gained great popularity worldwide.
The Nikkei introduced current status of the Korean webtoon industry with the report on April 11th that Korean companies, Naver and Kakao are competing for commercial supremacy in the global cartoon market. The Nikkei particularly noted two facts: that Kakao Entertainment, an affiliated company of Kakao, decided to take over the North American webtoon platform Tapas and the web novel platform Radish, and that Naver also started to take over the Canadian web novel platform Wattpad.
According to the Nikkei, Naver has reportedly secured 72 million readers around the world by providing more than 700,000 writers’ works in 10 languages including Line comic books with Japanese content, and Kakao has also strived to expand their business in the English-speaking world through M&A. In other words, they have been seeking to strengthen their status as the platform providers of the comic market.
The Nikkei pointed out K-webtoons’ difference from the Japanese webtoons, reporting that K-webtoons are easy to read because it is drawn in full color and designed to vertically scroll. It also added that the cuts and script arrangements are relatively free and easy to work with for translation into other languages. Many Japanese webtoon readers feel uncomfortable reading, because several cuts are placed together in one page and are read from the top right to the bottom left. The Nikkei concludes that Korean webtoons are becoming the new standard in the Internet cartoon industry.
The Nikkei’s report on Korean webtoon’s distinctive strength surprised many Korean people because Japan used to consider Korean webtoons inferior to theirs and just imitations of Japanese comics. However, K-webtoons began to be acknowledged as a leader in the global cartoon industry to the Japanese readers.
[61st edition of Weeklymonday / June 14, 2021]
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