Have you ever read Korean webtoons before? These 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 webtoon is that a new “episode” is released weekly. In comparison, you’d get a new issue of a comic book available to you only once a month.
- 1 What are webtoons?
- 2 Are Korean webtoons popular?
- 3 What are the most popular webtoons?
- 4 Where can I read Korean Webtoons?
- 5 Korean Webtoon Genres
- 6 Is Korean Manga and Korean Manhwa the same?
What are webtoons?
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 them.
Are Korean webtoons popular?
Webtoons are extremely popular in South Korea, especially among younger generations. Some factors contributing to its popularity are the accessibility and communication available for the readers to the artists. But above all, reading webtoons is entertaining!
Why would you enjoy reading a Korean webtoon?
There are multiple reasons why you would enjoy reading a 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) They 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 webtoons is a great way to unwind on study breaks or while traveling by public transportation.
3) They are visualized awesomely, just like how visuals in comic books would be but in a wholly digital form.
4) They 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. It’s also a great way to learn about the Korean language.
7) They are entertaining! And for that simple reason, you’d enjoy reading them. Many favorite webtoons have also been made into movies and dramas, doubling the fun of consuming them.
What are the most popular webtoons?
It may be impossible to point to a single webtoon as there are incredibly many options for you to choose from when choosing great 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 fans.
Along with the Gods
Korean title: (신과 함께 ㅣ singwa hamkke)
Along with the Gods is especially intriguing as it has a structure of three different stories, each of which is 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!
Korean title: (미생 | Misaeng)
The English translation of misaeng (미생) would be “Incomplete life.” It tells the story of Jang Geurae, who after failing at his first job, 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 became so popular a TV series starring the Kpop idol Im Siwan from ZE:A was created, also reaching explosive popularity among viewers.
Korean title: (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.
Korean title: (여신강림 ㅣ yeosingangnim)
This tells the story of a shy teenage girl who becomes a pretty girl sensation in her school overnight after mastering how to apply make-up by binge-watching several online beauty videos. She decided on this make-over so she no longer gets bullied by high school students for her appearance.
Now she has to keep her true identity a secret from her friends and worries whether the cute guy she has her eyes on could handle knowing who she truly is. The live-action drama version of this webtoon is as entertaining to watch!
Korean title: (노블레스 ㅣ nobeulleseu)
At the center of the fantasy webtoon story of Noblesse, is a character named Rai, who has to start attending present-day high school after 820 years of 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 dangerous adventures.
My Secret Brother
Korean title: (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, that Junhyuk is actually her brother!
My ID is Gangnam Beauty
Korean title: (신의 탑 ㅣ nae IDneun gangnammiin)
This webtoon-based series tells the story of a young girl 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 has gained popularity and has been adapted as a K-drama staring one of Korea’s most popular leading men.
Tales of the Unusual
Korean title: (기기괴괴 | gigigoegoe)
If you’re a fan of the scary 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, monster world, paranormal experiences, and supernatural phenomena.
A Japanese TV series was also created based on this webtoon.
Tower of God
Korean title: (신의 탑ㅣsin ui tap)
This story revolves around Twenty-Fifth Bam, a boy who spent most of his everyday 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.
Where can I read Korean Webtoons?
Now that you have a list of what to read, here are some websites that you can check out for the best South Korean comics available presented digitally. These are also available in English, so navigating through these platforms will be easy.
Top Korean Webtoon Websites
There are a few central sites from where you can find these webtoons to read.
Naver Webtoon – One of the original sites from where the journey of the webtoon industry started.
Daum Webtoon – Daum is another popular platform where most webtoons were first released at.
KakaoPage – KakaoTalk’s own platform for webtoons and more.
Toomics – A great resource for finding top webtoons in English.
Lezhin Comics – Lezhin comics is another excellent site for reading webtoons in English.
There are also some webtoons that are only available in Korean. It can be advantageous for readers who understand Korean as they can immediately read these comics without waiting for them to be translated.
If you’d want that too, our online courses can be of great help. They’re designed to help you learn Korean in 90 days, and use it in practical situations. Yes, that includes reading webtoons too! You can know more about the courses here.
Naver Webtoon is considered one of the sites that started webtoons in Korea and was launched in 2004 and can be considered the biggest webtoon platform. In 2014, the brand was launched on a global scale as LINE Webtoon. Naver is also the largest platform in South Korea when it comes to translated webtoons.
Since Naver is also available in different languages, it’s also labeled differently in some countries. It 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 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 you don’t need to pay for access!
Korean Webtoon Genres
There are several 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 Romance Webtoons
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.
This is another popular genre because 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 webtoons that you must read if you love scary stories. Sweet Home also even has a series adaptation that you can watch on Netflix.
Slice of Life Webtoons
Compared to other genres like fantasy, 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 with many too. Some must-read webtoons under this genre are My Giant Nerd Boyfriend and Blue Chair.
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.
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. A character can have a mysterious ability or power you can’t find in a normal human. If you want an escape from real life, you can check out Tower of God and Noblesse.
Is Korean Manga and Korean Manhwa the same?
The Korean version of Japan’s manga is called 만화 (manhwa). This is the term generally used to refer to comics and printed cartoons in Korea. Due to the similarities between Japan’s manga and Korea’s manhwa, a manhwa is often referred to as Korean manga.
Korean Manhwa vs. Korean Webtoons
Both Korean manhwa and webtoons provide entertainment in the form of comics. However, Korean manhwa specifically refers to printed ones, while webtoons are digital comics.
Korean Webtoons vs. Japanese Manga
Now, let’s go to webtoons and Japanese manga. Both the webtoons from Korea and manga from Japan bring entertainment to their readers through stories with amazing visual art. But what makes them different?
First, 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 comics or 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. Webtoons are in a vertical webtoon format, so you will be scrolling downwards as you progress. The reason behind this is to make it easy to read on the phone and to carry along than a book. Japanese manga is read from right to left, so the first page is the usual last page of a book.
Have you ever read a webtoon before? You might have come across one first from platforms like Daum or Lezhin Comics. If not, where do you usually read webtoons from? What did you think of them? Let us know below in the comments! If you would like to discover some more popular media from Korea, check out our recommendations on Kpop, Kdramas, and K-movies.