Originating in Korea, webtoon (웹툰) is colorized mobile and digital comics, an offshoot of the older Korean manhwa. In other words, it is the counterpart of manga in South Korea. The name itself is a compound word, derived from “website” and “cartoon.” The webtoon reader community around the world is quickly expanding, making the webtoon a “syndrome” in the current generation. If you’re familiar with K-dramas (Korean dramas) such as Itaewon Class, True Beauty, and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?, you have to know that they all were adaptations based on highly popular webtoon series. Gripping plots, interesting characters, and exquisite art make millions of fans obsessed with these revolutionary comics.
Webtoon was created by the mobile internet ecosystem. In the early 2000s, they were recognized as independent stories in a “snack-culture” format. As of date, the fairly simple and linear distribution of webtoons by Korean platform providers and easy-to-access resources fuel the Korean comics market growth. Indeed, the South Korean webtoon market is expected to grow at an impressive rate as it continues to boost its content competitiveness worldwide. Before, webtoons were exclusively produced by Korean content creators; now, any artist from all around the world can make and upload their own webtoons.
So, what is “snack culture”?
This term is pretty popular in South Korea, and it refers to entertainment that is consumed in a short period (not more than fifteen minutes). That is to say, you can enjoy it anytime and anywhere like devouring a snack.
The success of webtoons
Continuously growing internet penetration along with the increasing number of internet users presented a notable opportunity for the country. Hence, optimized for smartphones from the get-go, webtoons have generated strong demand and significant progress over the years not only in the homeland but also across the globe.
It goes without saying that communication between the audience and the artist/writer is crucial for success. Having considered this communicational factor also helped webtoons to become a leading cultural trend at the international level.
All things considered, webtoons, the flagship of the cultural phenomenon of South Korea, continue to accomplish extensive commercial success far beyond their predictions. Its ongoing evolution contributed to a new term: “webtooniverse”.