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S. Korea's web cartoon industry scores highest operating profit in 2022: report

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : January 18, 2024, 15:43 Updated : January 18, 2024, 15:56
Courtesy of Naver Webtoon
[Courtesy of Naver Webtoon]

SEOUL -- South Korea's web cartoon industry achieved a record high of 1.8 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in 2022, data released by the country's culture ministry showed. The ministry plans to nurture webcomic as South Korea's leading content industry to attract more global fans.

Web cartoons, also known as webtoons or webcomics, are digital comic books created to fit into web or mobile platforms. South Korea is the birthplace of webtoons. Popular webtoons are recreated into different content including TV dramas and films such as Kingdom, a Netflix Original drama series that depicted a zombie-infested kingdom. According to market research firm Spherical Insights & Consulting, the global webtoon market is projected to reach $60.1 billion in 2030.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism estimated the South Korean webtoon industry earned an operating profit of some 1.8 trillion won in 2022, up 16.8 percent from a year ago. The operating profit, which was only 379.9 billion won in 2017, has skyrocketed to one trillion won in 2020, and exceeded 1.5 trillion won in 2021.

"As South Korean cartoon and webtoon content garner love from both domestic and global fans, we will nurture them as a leading next-generation national industry, following K-pop and gaming content," Culture Minister Yu In-chon said in a statement on January 18. The ministry will announce its detailed plan to upgrade the webcomic sector later this month.

South Korea's webtoon developers are seeking a competitive advantage in the global market. Naver Webtoon, the digital cartoon wing of the country's web service giant Naver, provides multiple language services including English, Japanese, French, Spanish, and German. The company, which operates services in more than 100 nations, had 82 million monthly active users as of February 2022. Naver Webtoon's headquarters was moved to Los Angeles in 2020 for globalization.

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