What the hell is Webtoon?

Jimmy Hsu
4 min readApr 3, 2022

In the past ten years, Korea has been doing a good job at promoting their culture and export it abroad. We can see not only K-pop took the world by storm, but also the K-movie, such as Parasite, made such a bit hit. And when it comes to K-drama, there were tons of TV shows being trending.

There are two korean TV shows in Netflix’s most watched show top 10 list. Of course, Squid Game is the no. 1 and accumulated 1.65 billions watched hours. But what intrigued me the most is another show called All Of Us Are Dead with 560 millions watched hours. Actually, I am not crazy about K-drama so I only watched few Korean TV shows. After doing the research on it, I found out it is adapted from webtoon, and there are lots of K-drama being all the rage and originating from webtoon, including My ID is Gannam Beauty, Love Alarm and True Beauty. So what is webtoon? And how it becomes the major source of inspiration in Korean entertainment scene?

What is Webtoon?

Webtoon is a mashup word from Web and Cartoon, so basically, it’s a comic created digitally. It came into popularity in 2000s in Korea because of fast speed of internet and well-equipped smartphone. People read this new format of comic online via computer and smartphone.

What is the difference between various forms of comic?

I bet everyone more or less heard about someone discussing the Manga or Anime before because Japanese Manga or Western comics, such as Marvel and DC, play such an important role in today’s entertainment industry. However, what exactly set the webtoon apart from other forms of comics?

In fact, webtoon is not just a digital version of comic book, there’s a fundamental distinction — vertical layout. Webtoon is read from top to bottom instead of flipping from left to right or right to left and this scroll type is to accommodate the mobile viewers better.

Why webtoon can gain the popularity?

For Users

Like I mentioned before, webtoon is read via computer and smartphone, so it makes readers very easy to read it only at their fingertips. Besides, compare to Japanese Manga, it only takes 8–15 mins to finish one chapter in webtoon. The bite-sized content is really well-suited for commuters to absorb while waiting for the public transportation.

In Korea, the snack culture is really trending and it’s the habit of consuming information and cultural resources quickly rather than engaging at a deeper level. (usually less than 15 mins) In developed countries like Korea and Taiwan, people all live in fast-paced lives and look for quick bites of entertainment. Therefore, snack culture of course could be the tailwind of the popularity of webtoon.

For Creators

Fast internet and high penetration of smartphone is not only beneficial to the readers but also to the creators. Comic industry used to be very labor-intensive and centralized. And the artwork production was hand-drawn and time-consuming. The entry threshold of becoming the comic creators has been erased. Comic creators can produce their artwork very easily via specific application online.

Also, it’s much easier for creators to interact with their audiences in the platform. Higher user engagement normally increases reader’s stickiness.

Actually, I am not a fan of Korean culture, but webtoon will have a great impact on Asian entertainment industry, so we definitely need to keep eyes on its development. In the next article, I will introduce the reason why webtoon is important and what impact it will bring to us. Stay tuned!

Naver Corporation Wikipedia
Snack Culture Wikipedia
Webtoon Wikipedia
What Are Manga, Manhua and Manhwa(webtoon)? Explained
What is Webtoon?
The Best K-Dramas Based on Webtoons, From All of Us Are Dead to Love Alarm



Jimmy Hsu

Marketer who likes to understand the world better by reading.