If you clicked on this article, you?re likely into comics. You could have even come across the word ?Webtoon? or ?Webcomic? online.
So what?s the difference?
Webcomics are digitalized versions of physical comic books for online reading. The thing is, it wasn?t optimized for smartphones. It stuck with swiping left and right. Worst of all, it?s mostly in black and white (while some might disagree on the color scheme)
So you might be thinking about, ?Precisely what exactly is webtoon??
In layman terms, it?s colorized manhwa (Korean comics) made simply for smartphones where you scroll vertically rather than the standard page flipping.
The First Generation
Originating in Korea, the word ?Webtoon? is relatively new in the comics industry. It?s a variety of ?world wide web? and ?cartoon.?
It started with Chollian, a now-defunct Online sites engine, that established Chollian Webtoon to provide webtoons to readers in August of 2000.
What made it different from other online comics was its introduction of the vertical-layout. Most online comics at that time followed the original horizontal layout designed for PCs (landscape style).
Marine Blues (left); Pape and Popo Series (right). Credit: Kim?s Licensing
Following a emergence of webtoons, an influx of indie webtoons jumped into the scene.
Early webtoons were recognized as standalone (called an omnibus in Korea) slice-of-life stories. Some popular comics include Snow Cat, Marine Blues, and Pape and Popo Series. Unusual at the time, each was self-published online by its authors rather than through magazines or editorials.
A couple days after, webtoons quickly became widespread because the internet became popular and became more accessible.
Leaning on the fast-growing popularity of webtoons in the early 2000s, Korean internet portals like Daum and Naver took advantage of webtoons to increase their web site traffic.
As their pivotal internet growth strategy, Daum and Naver pumped vast sums of money into webtoons. And it paid off. They achieved massive commercial success far beyond their predictions.
Webtoons are incredibly popular now. To give you an idea, Naver has over 46 million monthly active users (July 2018). How?d this happen? Two reasons why.
To begin with, from 2003, Daum recruited cartoonists like Kang Full to publish webtoons on the internet portals called ?World in Manhwa.? It featured works like Kang Full?s Love Story (a record-breaking hit). Other successful comics include Kang Do Ha? 무료웹툰 s The Great Catsby and Yang Young Soon?s 1001.
The second reason is due to accessibility to smartphones. You’re probably envious of people playing Angry Bird on their brand new iPhone while you miserably held your flip phone back 2010. Smartphones were just too expensive.
But in the 2010s, increasing numbers of people bought smartphones capable of doing offers far more technically demanding than Angry Birds like Pokemon Go and PUBG (PlayerUnknown?s Battlegrounds).
To no real surprise, South Korea quickly rose to 67% smartphone ownership in 2013. And to boast the numbers further, a 2019 report indicates that it?s now at an astounding 95%, holding the record today as highest in the world.