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Webtoon as a New Korean Wave in the Process of Glocalization

Wonho Jang, Jung Eun Song


With the development of Web 2.0, the online publication of Korean cartoons has increased substantially. The webtoon is a new genre of publishing Korean comics (manhwa) online, and is considered a unique case in the global cartoon market. The increase of Internet users and digital cultural consumption has established conditions for fostering the platform for webtoons and their production. In addition, the popularity of Korean dramas and K-pop has cultivated the spread of webtoons in the countries receiving dramas and K-pop. This study discusses the characteristics of Korean webtoons and their development using the concept of “glocal culture.” The glocalization of Korean cultural contents is the combined result of local socio-cultural characteristics of Korea, the hybridization of global and local features, and the transnational consumption of the Korean cultural contents. Such glocalizing dynamics can be seen in the process of the consumption and creation of new forms of pop culture in the countries receiving Korean Wave products. The paper argues that webtoons should also be understood as an exemplary glocalization of Korean culture, representing the social and cultural characteristics of Korea, while also having an impact on foreign comics industries in the age of digitalization. In addition, the glocalization process of Korean webtoons promotes cultural communications establishing a global webtoon fandom.


digital culture; glocal culture; glocalization; Korean Wave; transnational consumption; webtoon

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2017.02908