The popularity of these digital comics, webtoons, has exploded over the past ten years and isn’t showing any sign of letting up. The history of web cartoons in Korea dates back to more than 10 years now. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, so-called internet cartoons were mainly composed from personal anecdotes and /or were short comic strips. The webtoon market began growing in 2003, when Daum, a major Korean portal website, started to provide webtoon portal services.
As of 2014, the webtoons platforms began providing Korean webtoon translation to the global market, through a diverse set of platforms, such as Naver’s global instant messenger program Line, to meet a wider audience outside of Korea. The platform’s recent statistics show 60 million monthly visitors and more than 10 point five billion monthly page views. It even ranked number one in terms of profit and the Google Play Comics app category. According to data from the Korea Creative Content Agency, the overall value of the domestic lab to market jumps from 52.9 billion won in 2010 to over 880 billion won last year but the figure is expected to exceed one trillion won this year.
In the following blog, the discussion will focus on the benefits of the Korean webtoon translation on the growth of this market globally, more specifically, Korean to Japanese webtoon translation and Korean webtoon English translation. As well, Korean to Indonesian webtoon translation is being discussed shortly at the end. The blog will finish with a brief review of the challenges that webtoon translators face when translating these stories into English, Japanese or other languages.
Korean to Japanese Webtoon Translation
Originally, Webtoons were often considered a subculture mostly unknown outside of the country. but thanks to technology it slowly became popular worldwide. Thanks to the translation as well, Korean webtoons are getting more attention from the global market. Teens and young adults are binge-reading these stories everywhere. Japan is not an exception. Comparatively, Webtoons are getting as popular as manga in Japan. For example, on Kakao, Japan’s comic platform, there are around thirty thousand Korean titles.
The question is why is the Korean to Japanese webtoon translation so popular in Japan? First of all, Korean webtoons are mobile-based content. Webtoons creators, designers, and translators work collaboratively to constantly provide weekly content or episodes to the readers. It is very accessible to read these stories on smartphones, iPads, and other electronic devices instead of the actual paper manga. This is why Japanese young adults and teens find it flexible to read such stories on their phones.
Secondly, the translation has been improved over the years. The quality of the translation was supported by the drawing style that has been improved a lot. Therefore, all Japanese like how the story quickly unfolds its threads.
In other words, the plots of webtoon stories are one of the reasons why the Japanese find them interesting. Through Japanese webtoon translation, Webtoons have added a diversity of topics and genres to the Japanese market. The key behind this rapid growth of webtoons is that they have been developing into a wide range of content such as movies, dramas, animations and games.
Korean Webtoon English Translation
With the expansion of webtoons worldwide and the increasing interest in reading them in different languages, Korean webtoon translation into English is one of the areas where we can notice the growth of the webtoon market.
Korean webtoon English translation has made webtoons more popular globally. with almost 30 percent of respondents in a survey conducted in various English-speaking countries (the US, Canada) stating that webtoons were widely known to the general public. This could be evidence that Webtoon is threatening the paper-based Japanese manga and the Western comic books for creating an ecosystem of entertainment where readers find it easy, accessible, and affordable to read these stories on their phones.
Korean to Indonesian Webtoon Translation
The Korea Creative Content Agency has conducted a survey in 2020 in several countries including India, Indonesia, and Thailand. The purpose of the survey was to find out how popular webtoons are. Indonesia was the first highly popular country in reading webtoons. 38.5% of the participants in the survey declared that they were into reading webtoons.
This is not surprising. The technology-based publishing of webtoons makes it accessible for those who are not able to buy the expensive Japanese manga. The quality of Korean to Indonesian webtoon translation is being improved as the translators are following the comments of the readers on each episode.
Challenges of Korean to English and Korean to Japanese Translation
Although the cost of translation from Korean into English and Japanese is not above average, there are several challenges that Korean webtoon English translation and Korean to Japanese webtoon translation face. First of all, it is Korean. The language syntax, grammar, and dictionary is challenging for translators. They have to adapt to a different sentence order. when translating the Korean language to another language, in most cases the word order is not the same. Secondly, the meaning of a distinct term might be a little bit different if translated literally.
If one wishes to learn the Korean words and phrases, then the one should make an effort to learn the Korean script.
Regardless, Koreans have different levels of register in accordance with the addressee. The level of politeness or the language register depends by far on the relation between the interlocutors in a conversation. This is one of the areas where translators fall in the trap of misinterpretation.