Every morning, the first thing I check on my phone is newly updated webtoons from my phone which I have awaited for a week. Webtoon is an abbreviation for ‘web’ and ‘cartoon,’ which describes digital cartoons distributed through the internet.
There is a vast pool of webtoons to choose from, and different webtoons are published periodically each day. I am certainly not the only one who reads webtoon on a daily basis. There are many other regular readers with different tastes, and they are appealed to various genres of webtoon, including action, fantasy, and lifestyle. Experts say that meticulously written stories are what compel the readers to look forward to the next episode.
“Story-based long-running webtoons are carefully structured like dramas in ways that keep readers begging to know what will happen next. On the other hand, episode-based shorter webtoons revolve around an appealing central character. Either way, readers are compelled to look for the next episode,” said Park Seok-hwan, a professor at the department of cartoon and comics at Korea College of Media Arts.
Webtoon certainly has become one of the main entertainment in Korea. Today, there are movies and dramas adapted from webtoon popular webtoon such as “Misaeng” by Yoon Tae Ho or “Cheese in the Trap” by Soonkki
In the past, many cartoonists posted their original works on their personal blogs or homepage, until Yahoo Korea created a webtoon service called “Cartoon World” in March, 2002, followed by Daum in 2003 and Naver in 2004. Webtoons became highly accessible as the technology developed. Today, anybody with Internet access can read webtoons anywhere and anytime.
Here are five most popular portal sites where you can enjoy webtoons in Korea. (Unfortunately only #1 and #2 provide their services in English.)
- Lehzin Comics (Founded in 2012)
Lehzin Comics was the first portal to execute a paid webtoon service, and now it became the most paid webtoon platform in Korea. Due to the freedom it provides, Lehzin Comics attracts many authors who are famous for PG webtoons. Lehzin Comics provide about 150 webtoons in English.
- Naver Webtoon (Founded in 2004)
Naver Webtoon is one of the most popular webtoon platforms with about 40 million monthly users. In 2018, the cumulative number of views reached 5 billion. Naver Webtoon is particularly popular in Japan and Southeast Asia.
- Daum Webtoon (Founded in 2003)
Daum Webtoon is one of the oldest webtoon platforms in Korea. It became the main attraction of webtoon when Kangfull’s Romantic Comic became successful in 2004, reaching total 3.2 million views. Today Daum Webtoon has about 7 million monthly users.
- PikiToon (Founded in 2015)
PikiToon is an entrepreneur of webtoons. Unlike other platforms, it integrates animations and panorama in webtoons, and it allows readers to share and comment on each slide. PikiToon borrowed the idea of slide-based webtoon from Naver Webtoon, but later these ideas were adopted by Naver Webtoon. However, it is less popular compared to other platforms due to lack of high quality webtoons.
- Comica (Founded in 2016)
Comica is one of the newest launched webtoon platform. Although it’s new, it provides many high-quality and unprecedented style webtoons. Comica recently reached out to the Indonesian market and now it provides its service in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Spanish.