Key Takeaways:

  • The South Korean webtoon industry had 1 trillion won ($843 million) sales in 2020.
  • Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and India were the countries where K-webtoon market popularity was the highest in 2021.
  • The webtoon market size reached $3,673 million in 2021.
  • Naver Webtoon has acquired 100 billion won ($84 million) monthly gross merchandise value and 82 million active readerships in January 2022. 
  • The Korean Manhwa Content Agency started an online exhibition, “ON, WEBTOON,” in Malaysia and Japan on February 11th, 2022, which will be available until February 2023.
  • The webtoon industry in Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia grew approximately 68% compared to last year.
  • The Korean webtoon market has a CAGR of 30.99% in 2022-2028.

Table of contents 

  • Korean Webtoon Popularity in Countries 2021
  • The Future of Webtoons 
  • CCCI – Professional Webtoon Services

K-webtoon market popularity grows globally, and each year, more and more webtoons are produced with increased readership worldwide. A survey was conducted in different countries during 2021, where 40% of the respondents stated that webtoons are very popular. The South Korean webtoon industry had its sales to 1 trillion won ($843 million) in 2020. At the time, the web-based Korean comics market locally reached 1.05 trillion won in the same year, which has increased $64.6 from the last year, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency. Since 2017, this was the first time in any industry that the annual sales exceeded the 1 trillion won threshold. 

As there is a South Korean webtoon market growth, webtoons are increasingly looking overseas to find success. There are many mobile applications to read webtoons, and consumers can easily access them. On the other hand, South Korean agencies are the ones who implement the webtoon content export to other countries. 

Naver Webtoon, one of the top webtoon platforms worldwide, acquired 100 billion won ($84 million) monthly gross merchandise value and 82 million active readerships in January 2022, hitting on Netflix series based on popular Korean-style webtoons and webcomics. Famous webtoon in Korea such as “True Beauty” and “The Remarried Empress” stayed popular throughout Europe this January as well. While these South Korean webtoons keep going viral in Europe, the new webtoon releases have become renowned domestically and abroad. One of those is – “7 Fates: Chakho,” a fantasy genre webtoon created with the collaboration of Naver Webtoon and BTS’s management company Hybe Co., got released on January 15th. This webtoon inspired by BTS surpassed 25 million views in only two days. This fact made it have the highest number of viewers ever for any new webtoon released on Naver Webtoon.

Pro Tip

Pro Tip

As the webtoon market becomes more competitive, and the readers prefer to read webtoons that are interesting, have great design, and are accessible in their local language, you should apply to a professional webtoon translation and typesetting service provider.

As we said, K-webtoon market popularity went global and attracted millions of people with its original storylines and amazing typesetting. According to a survey on the Korean webtoon popularity worldwide, done in 2021, Malaysia was the top country with approximately 60% of respondents, who answered they were interested in webtoons. The following three countries where people found webtoons popular were Vietnam, with 53.8%, Taiwan with 51.3%, and India with 51.3%, respectively.

Now let’s dig deeper into the K-webtoon market popularity in these countries and explore some new facts on webtoons. 

Korean Webtoon Popularity in Countries 2021

Several webtoon platforms, such as Naver Webtoon and Kakao Webtoon, have expanded their services to other countries for being accessible to the readership abroad. Besides the countries mentioned above, the Korean webtoon industry is quite prominent in Asian countries, like Japan and Indonesia. Now, let us introduce you to the top countries where people have considered webtoons the most popular.

Malaysia Webtoon Market

On February 11th, 2022, the Korean Manhwa Content Agency started a continuous online exhibition called “ON, WEBTOON” in Malaysia and Japan. This is the first online exhibition of Korean webtoons that has been held in Malaysia for K-webtoons fans. The exhibition introduced five famous webtoons, which all have been adapted into top K-dramas: “Hellbound,” “Navillera,” “True Beauty,” “Nevertheless,” and “The Uncanny Counter.” 

Everyone in the world can access “ON, WEBTOON,” however, only audiences of Malaysia and Japan can be present for offline and hybrid events and talk shows throughout the year. Besides this exhibition, the webtoon artist of “Hellbound,” Choi Gyu-Seok, held an online fan meeting at Korea Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on February 18th. This exhibition is an excellent opportunity for K-webtoon fans worldwide to join and get to know the Malaysia webtoon market as well. “ON, WEBTOON” will be available until February 11th, 2023.

Here are the top 5 webtoon and comics apps of Google Play Store in Malaysia: Bilibili Comics, Line Webtoon, MangaToon, Tapas, and Manga Plus by SHUEISHA.

Vietnam Webtoon Market

K-webtoon market popularity is increasing more and more in Vietnam. Recently, Line Webtoon has established two corporations in Vietnam, which means that reading K-webtoons has become a need in this population. Also, NHN, a global IT company with an IT-based business portfolio including game, payment, entertainment, etc., operated the Comico webtoon platform to service translations in countries such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Vinatoon is the first webtoon service provider launched by Mobikor in Vietnam in April (2017), aiming to expand the Vietnam webtoon market through different company collaborations. As of that time, the company has provided 63 Korean-style digital comics to Comicola, Vietnam’s biggest cartoon company, doing webtoon translation and localization services. Mobikor is also planning to expand to O.S.M.U business to develop the webtoon industry in Vietnam.

Another cooperation that Mobikor has done is with Payone, a digital financial transaction solution development service company, for supplying webtoon service to the Vietnamese employees living in Korea. These two companies aim to link with Viantoon, which will allow reading qualified webtoons translated into Vietnamese with this webtoon payment service in Korea.

Taiwan Webtoon Market

Global webtoon market size becomes higher every year, and gradually the webtoon market draws more attention to the young generation. In Taiwan, 61% of the webtoon audience is under 24, 77% in the US, 59% in Thailand, and 71% in Indonesia. 

The Korean webtoon industry in Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia grew approximately 68% compared to last year, and year by year, the numbers are becoming higher and setting new records. Recently, Naver Webtoon’s monthly active users exceeded 13 million in Southeast Asia countries, especially in these three countries mentioned above. 

Naver Webtoon launched its services in Taiwan in 2014, and as of now, the app ranks as No. 4 in the Taiwan webtoon market. In comparison, Kakao Webtoon became the most famous app in Taiwan in the scope of Korean digital comics downloads. The head of Kakao Entertainment’s Taiwan corporate, Oh Myung-soo, mentioned that the organization’s future activity and operation potential is more competitive than for others. Currently, these are the 5 most popular webtoons in Taiwan’s Naver Webtoon’s website: “When I had to go to an all-boys school,” “Golden day without heart,” “Angel’s secret,” “Real education,” and “Empress’s new marriage.”

India Webtoon Market

K-webtoon market popularity also has its place in India, particularly in the past several years. As the Korean webtoon industry head started in India, the first webtoon app was launched in 2019, called Kross Komics. The platform includes webtoons translated to English, Hindi, and Telugu. Hyunwoo Thomas Kim, a South Korean investment banker and a film producer in Kross Pictures, has launched the platform in India. Kross Komics rapidly acquired growth by having 3.5 million downloads. The Co-founder and CEO of Kross Komics had commented on the platform’s development over 1.5 years by saying that it was one of the pleasurable experiences in his career to invest in the Indian webtoon market.

The leading Indian entertainment creator of superhero characters, Graphic India, has launched the first webtoon platform in India accessible and optimized for mobile devices, “TOONSUTRA,” in April 2021. The app includes various genres such as fantasy, romance, sci-fi, action, mythology, superhero, etc. In addition, the platform will foster the rising star creators through India, which will help them grow and let the world know their stories.