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[K-ENT&BEYOND] Behind the global popularity of Korean webtoons Updated: 2021-10-27 17:06:04 KST

Webtoons are becoming increasingly popular overseas, as evident in the increase in sales of Kakao and Naver webtoons, the top two giants in this field. Kakao Webtoon recently entered Taiwan and Thailand where its sales topped the market.
Today we will discuss further about what's driving the global popularity of Korean webtoons with Jayden KANG, Head of Kakao Webtoon Global at Kakao Entertainment, in the studio with us, and YANG Ji-hoon, Researcher at the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute on Zoom.
Thank you gentlemen for joining us.

So let's start with you Jayden. Kakao already has presence in Japan and the U.S. and plan to enter Europe as well. How popular is webtoon overseas and how are your webtoons being met in the countries you've entered?

How are webtoons different from the digital cartoons that have been consumed for many years on smartphones and tablet PCs? What makes webtoons attractive? What are their unique characteristics?

How is the current webtoon market in Korea? How far have we come in terms of growth? What are some trends we are noticing in the industry?

Many of the releases on Netflix such as Space Sweepers, Kingdom, D.P., and upcoming Hellbound are stories originally based on webtoons and many other films and dramas as well. Why do webtoons easily transition into other genres such as films and dramas?

Also, when these webtoons are turned into visual content form such as films and dramas, there's always the issue of IP, or intellectual property. I believe Kakao has several IPs for dramas as well. How important is IP for content and are there any issues regarding the acquisition of IP?

What were some major works from Kakao that have been turned into dramas? Do you plan to continue producing webtoons into dramas and films? How does this work? And how is the OTT market helping this? Is there any sense of pressure to compete with other OTT services' original IP, such as Netflix or incoming Disney Plus?

What differentiates Kakao's webtoons from that of its competitor, Naver? Is there any sense of threat or pressure from competing with Naver both here and overseas?

How is the Korean wave, or the popularity of Korean culture overseas, impacting the webtoon industry?

Kakao Entertainment recently acquired webtoon platform Tapas and web novel platform Radish, as well as hiring hundreds of talents from overseas including professionals from global top media groups such as Disney, Warner Bros. and DC Comics. What's the reason behind this rapid aggressive expansion and why at this point in time? What were some major changes since the acquisition? And what is your global strategy for the future?

Have you noticed any differences in trend or taste of foreign consumers from Koreans?

What is the biggest challenge regarding the overseas expansion of webtoon? What needs to be done to facilitate this process and help the industry grow?

That was Jayden KANG from Kakao Entertainment and YANG Ji-hoon from the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute. Thank you both for joining us.
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