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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Webtoons Go Viral?: The Globalization Processes of Korean Digital Comics

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.1, pp.71-99
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.1.71
(Temple University)
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Abstract

This article explores the social, global, and technological conjuncture exemplified by the globalization processes of Korean webtoons—a portmanteau of Web and cartoon. Based on 12 interviews with a variety of actors working in the Korean webtoon industry, including publishers, agencies, and platform providers, this article discusses diverse global and local factors that articulate and complicate transnational media flows in the new media ecology. In this paper, I explain the driving forces behind the global expansion of Korean webtoons in terms of Korea’s small-scale domestic market, the growth of smartphone penetration, the emergence of a paid service model, and the rise of China’s pan-entertainment strategy. Focusing on the mutually constitutive relation between global and local, I also suggest interpreting Korean webtoons’ overseas expansion as an example of the disjunctive globalization process and decentralized transnational cultural power.

keywords
webtoons digital comics comics globalization disjunctive flows decentralization

Korea Journal