Have you ever read a Korean webtoon before? Korean webtoons are like comic books but entirely digital; in short, they’re digital comics. They’ve become much more popular among Koreans than traditional comic books. They’ve grown to be a big industry with even global success and Netflix deals getting made.
One of the most exciting factors of a Korean webtoon is that a new “episode” is published weekly. In comparison, you’d get a new issue of a comic book available to you only once a month.
What is a webtoon?
The word webtoon derives from the words “web” and “cartoon.” They are entirely digital, most commonly published on Naver and Daum, the top search engines in South Korea. You can access them directly on the website, or you can download an app for it.
Is Webtoon popular in Korea?
Korean webtoons are extremely popular in Korea in the market, especially with younger generations. Some factors contributing to its popularity are the accessibility and communication available for the readers to the webtoon artists. But above all, reading Korean webtoons is entertaining!
Why would you enjoy reading a Korean webtoon?
There are multiple reasons why you would enjoy reading a Korean webtoon! For example…
1) They are a great additional source for finessing your Korean language skills. Even if you cannot instantly understand everything written down, the visual images will aid in knowing the context.
2) Korean Webtoons are easy to read anywhere, anytime. Because you can access them straight from your phone, you don’t need to burden yourself with a book or a Kindle in your bag. Reading Korean webtoons is a great way to unwind on study breaks or while traveling in public transportation.
3) Korean Webtoons are visualized awesomely, just like how art in comics would be but in a wholly digital form.
4) Korean Webtoons are not heavy on words. The dialogues aren’t complicated or rambling, and, again, the visual images are always there to give you the context clearly.
5) You get to choose how fast or slow you read it. If you’re reading a caption five times before you’re ready to move on, that’s okay, and you’re in full control to do so.
6) They tell stories about Korean culture. Like Korean dramas and movies, you’ll learn more about South Korea and Korean culture through webtoons.
7) Korean Webtoons are entertaining! And for that simple reason, you’d enjoy reading them. Many favorite Korean webtoons have also been made into movies and dramas, doubling the fun of consuming them.
What is the most famous Webtoon?
It may be impossible to point to a single webtoon as there are incredibly many options for you to choose from when choosing great Korean webtoons. They come in all shapes and sizes today, meaning there are various genres and stories to choose from. But to help narrow down your options, we’ve included below a few that are especially popular or we otherwise think could offer you a great experience to the readers and fans.
Along with the Gods (신과 함께 ㅣ singwa hamkke)
This Korean webtoon is especially intriguing as it has a structure of three different stories, each of which are released separately, taking place in their own world. The first story focuses on the underworld, the second one takes place in the world of the living, and the third story tells you about the gods. Two movies have been made of this webtoon, making each movie popular up to this date!
The English translation of misaeng (미생) would be “Incomplete life.” It tells the story of Jang Geurae, who after failing at his first career, begins working in an office, despite having no qualifications for the job. His story depicts many different aspects of a regular office worker’s life in Korea. That’s why this Korean webtoon became so popular a TV series starring the Kpop idol Im Siwan from ZE:A was created, also reaching explosive popularity among viewers.
Lookism (외모지상주의 ㅣ oemojisangjuui)
Lookism is an interesting story of a school student who is often regarded as the ugliest student in his school. However, his life changes entirely when he happens to acquire a second body, of someone who is seemed incredibly handsome, even perfect. This high school student then can change between his two bodies by going to sleep, leading him into interesting situations.
Noblesse (노블레스 ㅣ nobeulleseu)
At the center of Noblesse, a fantasy Korean webtoon is a character named Rai, who has to start attending present-day high school after 820 years in slumber. Not only does he have to navigate the life of an ordinary high school student, but he continues to find himself in the middle of various adventures.
True Beauty (여신강림 ㅣ yeosingangnim)
This romance Korean webtoon tells the story of a shy teenage girl who becomes a pretty girl sensation in her school overnight after mastering the art of make-up by binge-watching several online beauty videos. Now she has to keep her true identity a secret and worries whether the cute guy she has her eyes on could handle knowing who she truly is. The Korean drama version of this webtoon is as entertaining to watch!
My Secret Brother (말할 수 없는 남매 ㅣ malhal su eomneun nammae)
On her very first day of starting at a new school, Hanmi tells a lie for the sake of getting somebody’s attention. Unfortunately, she had not thought of how far that lie would carry. And now she’s finding herself in a situation where the whole school thinks she’s dating Junhyuk. The problem in the story is, Junhyuk is actually her brother!
My ID is Gangnam Beauty! (신의 탑 ㅣ nae IDneun gangnammiin)
Another Korean webtoon that has also been turned into a Korean drama series, at the focus of this story is a young woman named Kang Mirae. Because she has received humiliation due to her appearance, she decides to have plastic surgery. However, at university, she now ends up being ridiculed for that plastic surgery. Over the course of the webtoon, she journeys on to find and build her self-esteem, and perhaps even romance? This popular webtoon has gained popularity and has been adapted as a Korean drama.
Tower of God (신의 탑ㅣsin ui tap)
This story revolves around Twenty-Fifth Bam, a boy who spent most of his life alone in an enclosed structure called “The Tower” until he met a friend, Rachel. She has already decided to climb up the Tower, even if it means leaving Bam behind. He soon follows Rachel towards the top of the Tower, and he eventually learns things about himself along the way.
Tales of the Unusual (기기괴괴 | gigigoegoe)
If you’re a fan of the horror genre comics, you’ll surely love this. This webtoon features stories of characters experiencing different events, most of which are unusual and related to urban legends, paranormal experiences, and supernatural phenomena. A Japanese TV series was also created based on this webtoon.
Where can I read Korean Webtoons?
Now that you have a list of Korean webtoons to read, here are some websites that you can check out for the best webtoons available. These are also available in English, so navigating through these platforms will be easy.
Top Websites to Find Korean Webtoons in English
There are a few central sites from where you can find these Korean webtoon series to read.
Naver Webtoon – One of the original sites from where the journey of the Korean webtoon industry started.
Daum Webtoon – Daum Webtoon is another popular webtoon platform where most Korean webtoons were first published at.
KakaoPage – KakaoTalk’s own webtoon platform for Korean webtoons and more.
Toomics – A great resource for finding popular webtoons in English.
Lezhin Comics – Lezhin comics is another excellent site for reading Korean webtoons in English.
Naver Webtoon is considered one of the sites that started Korean webtoons and was launched in Korea in 2004. In 2014, the brand was launched on a global scale as LINE Webtoon. Naver is also the largest platform in Korea when it comes to webtoons.
Since Naver Webtoon is also available in different languages, it’s also labeled differently in some countries. Naver Webtoon is called “Webtoon” in languages such as English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Thai, and German. However, in Japanese, it’s called “LINE Manga,” while in Chinese, they’re “Dongman Manhua” and “Webtoon.”
Fans of Korean webtoons find it easy to navigate this platform even on their phones. They have an app that you can use to either download the webtoon for offline use or view it online. The best part about this is readers can access it for free!
Korean Webtoon Genres
There are several webtoon genres available that you can read, depending on your preference. We have listed the common ones that you’ll see along with the titles of some popular webtoons in these genres.
Korean Webtoon Romance
This genre usually depicts stories between two main characters who are attracted to each other. A romance genre is often paired with another genre like drama, comedy, or fantasy. Some popular webtoons under this genre are True Beauty, Love Olympus, and Cheese in the Trap.
Korean Webtoon Horror
Another popular webtoon genre is horror. Even if a webtoon is not animated or doesn’t have the sound effects in a movie, it can still be terrifying. Tales of the Unusual and Sweet Home are horror webtoons that you must read if you love horror. Sweet Home also even has a Korean series adaptation that you can watch on Netflix.
Korean Webtoon Slice 0f Life
Compared to other genres like fantasy or horror, or even some scenes that you can find in romance webtoons, a slice of life genre tends to be more simple with relatable events and characters. Since readers can relate to it, it naturally becomes popular to many too. Some must-read webtoons under this genre are My Giant Nerd Boyfriend and Blue Chair.
Korean Webtoon Comedy
Webtoons bring a huge deal of entertainment, especially ones that make you laugh out loud! Webtoons such as Adventures of God and Cursed Princess Club are ones you should check out if you want a good laugh.
Korean Webtoon Fantasy
Fantasy genres bring you to a whole other world just by reading. These webtoons are usually exciting because you’ll never know what will happen. Everything is possible, definitely. If you want an escape from real life, you can check out Tower of God and Noblesse.
Korean Webtoons vs. Japanese Manga
Both Korean webtoons and Japanese manga bring entertainment to their readers through stories with amazing visual art. But what makes them different? First, Korean webtoons are mostly accessible on the web only. This means that there are no printed copies available unless artists make a deal with a publishing company. On the other hand, Japanese mangas are more traditional and are normally printed but are also becoming available digitally in recent years.
Another noticeable difference between the two is their reading format. Korean webtoons are in a vertical format, so you will be scrolling downwards as you progress. The reason behind this is to make it easy to read on the phone – plus, their digital format makes it easier to carry along than a book. Japanese manga is read from right to left, so the first page is at the usual last page of a book.
Lastly, some Korean webtoons and Japanese mangas may also have adaptations. Normally, Korean webtoons are adapted as Korean dramas or movies, while mangas have their own version of anime adaptations.
Have you ever read a Korean webtoon before? You might have come across one first from platforms like Daum Webtoon or Lezhin Comics. If not, which sites have you read webtoons from? What did you think of them? Let us know below in the comments! If you would like to discover some more Korean popular media, check out our recommendations on Kpop, Kdramas, and Korean movies.
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