Webtoon, a portmanteau of "web" and "cartoon," refers to online comics available to read on major web portals like Naver and Daum. According to data from the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the overall value of the local webtoon market jumped from 52.9 billion won ($48.3 million) in 2010 to over 880 billion won last year, with the figure expected to exceed 1 trillion won this year.
OCN's "The Uncanny Counter," adapted from Jang Yi's Daum webtoon "Amazing Rumor," follows a teenage boy named So-mun (Jo Byung-gyu) who joins a group fighting evil spirits.
Its latest episode scored 7.7 percent viewership nationwide, setting the highest rating among the cable network's dramas. It also reached No.1 on Netflix's daily top 10 list in Korea after unveiling it on Nov. 29, according to analytics firm FlixPatrol.
"True Beauty," tvN's drama series based on Yaongyi's Naver webtoon of the same title, revolves around a high school girl named Lim Ju-kyeong (Moon Ga-young) whose bare face is covered with acne but she turns into a beautiful girl with makeup. The original webtoon has garnered huge popularity since launching in 2018, and is available in over 100 countries including the U.S., Japan and France.
Kakao TV's "No, Thank You," a 12-episode series based on popular webtoon "Myeoneuragi," is about Min Sa-rin (Park Ha-sun), a typical Korean daughter-in-law, navigating through her in-law issues.
The series shows Korea's deep-rooted gender discrimination by featuring how Min is called upon to prepare holiday meals, do dishes and cut fruit for her in-laws. Each episode has garnered over 1 million views online.
"The fact that the drama series recreates webtoons and realistically depicts what it's like to live in Korea as a married woman resonates with viewers," a Kakao TV official said.
Netflix is also eyeing Korean webtoon-based content. It will premiere Korean horror series "Sweet Home," a live-action adaptation of a webtoon from Kim Kan-bi and Hwang Young-chan, on Dec. 18. It will be helmed by Lee Eung-bok, well-known for his works "Goblin: The Lonely and Great God" and "Mr. Sunshine."
A reclusive teenager named Cha Hyeon-su (Song Kang) moves into a new apartment and joins other neighbors to fight against humans who have turned into savage monsters. The original webtoon has garnered 1.2 billion views globally.
Experts said the trend of infusing horror and fantasy elements in television series has been on the rise, and viewers have become more open-minded toward accepting quirks commonly found in webtoons.
"Dramas based on popular webtoons attract viewers fairly easily, and TV production houses can secure stable profit from them. Cashing in on webtoons' intellectual property will become more active in the future," Eugene Investment analyst Lee Hyun-ji said in a report.
source: The Korea Times