"What do you do before you go to bed?" Ask a friend around you, and you will hear a lot of responses saying that they watch webtoons. That is how much webtoons are consumed by many people. The popularity of webtoons is rapidly rising, as they are considered free of restrictions on time and place, and are easily enjoyed in just a few minutes. When did the history of webtoons start? Moreover, why do webcomics get so much love? Let us dig into everything about webcomics with CAH.
1. History of Webtoons
Throughout the world, the history of webtoons begins in 1980, but the nation's first webtoon is Han Hee-jak's 'Desert Island' which was released in 1996. It has been only 20 years since webtoons were created in Korea. In the mid-1990s, personal computers became popular and more comics were published on websites. As Internet usage became more active, major portal sites in Korea such as Naver, Yahoo, and Daum started webtoon services, and there were countless sites that operated webtoons on their own. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, cartooning of one's daily life became a trend and began to take on the form of current webtoons.
2. Why Webtoons?
So why did people start to get obsessed with webtoons? First of all, webtoons are very accessible. Since webtoons are based on smartphones, they have become more popular as smartphones have become easy to access. In the case of publishing cartoons, readers should buy books directly from bookstores, or in the case of comics which were published a long time ago, people can go to a comic book store and enjoy them after paying a certain fee. This shows why webtoons are actively consumed by the public in terms of costs as well as the advantages of accessibility. Though some webtoons are distributed for actual fees, most of them can be viewed almost free of charge, which makes them get ahead of published cartoons.
Webtoons are preferred not only for readers but also for writers. This is due to the low costs of producing them. For traditionally published comics, it costs a lot of money to reach consumers, including the price of paper and ink paid to print shops, the cost of transportation delivered to wholesalers, and retailers’ markups. However, Webtoons are free from these costs. In addition, if a certain number of viewers are maintained, the artist can publish comic strips at any time at his discretion. Recently, there have been frequent additions of advertisements to webtoons, and just looking at them makes a profit for the artists. This shows how much webtoons have benefited artists more than their publishing of paper comics.
3. Media Mix of Webtoons
Thanks to the popularity of webtoons and various materials used in the story, media mixes are also being actively conducted. It is often made into animation and games as well as dramas and movies. Webtoons started to be made into dramas since the late 2010s. Starting with Won Soo-yeon's "Marry Me, Marry!", many webtoons have been made into dramas, including "The Girl Who Sees Smell" and "Cheese in the Trap." However, their popularity was far beyond the original webtoon. On the other hand, many recent webtoon based dramas such as "My ID is Gangnam Beauty" and "My Lawyer, Mr. Joe" are loved by the public, which is why webtoon dramas are becoming more active. The same is true for Webtoons' cinematography. Joo Ho-min's "Along with the God" series, which was recently shown on the screen, has attracted more than 10 million viewers, creating a new history of film based webtoons. Since then, films based on webtoons have been actively produced. Webtoons are currently produced not only in dramas and movies, but also in animations, musicals, performances, and even games. Now, you will be able to realize how popular they are.
4. Writers of Webtoons Becoming Stars
While webtoons are permeating our daily lives, people are even interested in the artists of webtoons. The fact that artists’ autograph events were held with the publication of hit webtoons is what caught the eye of the public. As such, they have become exposed little by little, and the active usage of social media by the artists enabled communication with readers. Currently, webtoon artists often enter the television entertainment industry too. One of the best-known webtoon artists to the public is Gian84. His series of 'Fashion King' gained fame a lot, and his appearance on the air later became a big topic. Now he is a broadcaster on various entertainment shows thanks to constant public interest. Like him, many webtoon artists now appear on the air frequently.
5. Reporter’s Pick
a. College Diary
‘College Diary’ literally tells the story of an ordinary college student in the form of a journal. Many college students sympathize with the writer because she shows what she has really experienced in college. It is a light webtoon that has an omnibus style, not a story that every episode connects, so it is easy to see the episode that you want to see. Recently, a writer graduated from college and finished serializing it.
b. The World of the Girls
‘The World of the Girls’ is the story of four high school girls. A variety of stories, including the story that tells how the four became close to one another, are seen as a form of dramas. In particular, high school students will sympathize with their relationship with the backdrop of high school, and college students and adults will be able to look at the characters and indulge in memories.
c. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
‘My ID Is Gangnam Beauty’ is a webtoon which was recently made into a drama. The story starts with a girl who had a complex about her appearance and goes through plastic surgery. She is criticized by people around her for being a "Gangnam Beauty," but the male character in the story sees her inner beauty and becomes fond of her. The two love each other and the main character learns about the real beauty of a human being.
As such, webtoons are gaining explosive popularity about 20 years after their appearance in Korea. Now webtoons are not only one form of entertainment, but they are firmly entrenched in people's daily lives. Of course, this is the heyday of webtoons, and now, they are preparing for evolution. How much more will webtoons develop?
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