Webtoon (stylised as WEBTOON) is a webtoon publishing portal launched by Naver Corporation in South Korea in 2004. The platform is called Naver Webtoon in Korean, LINE Manga in Japanese, both Dongman Manhua and Webtoon in Chinese, and simply Webtoon in English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Thai, and German.
Type of site
|Available in||Korean, Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, German|
|Owner||Webtoon Entertainment Inc|
|Created by||JunKoo Kim|
|Launched||2004 (South Korea)|
2014 English, Taiwanese, Thai
2015 Indonesian, Japanese (Xoy Ver.)
2019 Japanese (Line Manga Ver.), Spanish, French
The platform first launched in Korea as Naver Webtoon and then globally as LINE Webtoon in July 2014, as the Naver brand is not well known outside of Korea and some of its services are also not available outside of the country. The service gained a large amount of traction during the late 2000s and early 2010s. In 2016, Naver's webtoon service entered the Japanese market as XOY and the Chinese market as Dongman Manhua. On December 18, 2018, Naver closed down XOY in Japan and migrated all of its translated and original webtoons to LINE Manga, its manga service that offers licensed manga. In 2019, LINE Webtoon was changed to WEBTOON in English and Spanish and French versions were launched. In 2020, WEBTOON transferred and serviced to Naver Webtoon Corp. In November 2020 WEBTOON established a new subsidiary called WEBTOON Studios which is for licensing their English IPs.
The platform partners with creators to publish original content under the WEBTOON ORIGINALS banner and hosts a number of other series on its self-publishing site CANVAS. LINE Webtoon comics can be discovered through the "daily system" function, along with being read and downloaded for free on computers and both iOS and Android devices.
LINE Webtoon was founded by JunKoo Kim in 2004, under the name "WEBTOON," after he watched the manhwa industry crash in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kim, who grew up reading Japanese manga and Korean superhero comics, was looking for a way to get new comics created because he found that there were very few new comics coming out. Kim theorized that tall, scrollable comics would work well on the World Wide Web, as users were already used to scrolling through web pages. Because of this unusual layout, Kim initially had difficulty finding artists to create webtoons on his service, but he found that manhwa was willing to do something different because of the poor state of the local manhwa industry. In May 2020, it was announced that WEBTOON is being transferred and serviced to Naver Webtoon Corp.
On July 2, 2014, the LINE Webtoon website and mobile app were launched worldwide, allowing international artists to upload their own works to the service. Hundreds of webtoons are available in the self-publishing section of Webtoon, known as CANVAS, where artists can be paid based on page views. Naver Corporation selected 42 webtoons (including Noblesse, Tower of God, and The God of High School) and one new webtoon by an American artist to be available on the service in English at launch. According to 148 Apps, the service offered "plenty of content" at launch, as seven to ten webtoons were updated each day and the webtoons spanned various genres.
In April 2013, Naver Webtoon created a Profit Page Share program. This compensation program that allow artists to get a larger profit through advertisements or their own personal stores, but is shared between NHN Corp and the artists themselves.
In 2015, LINE Webtoon partnered with US comics veteran Stan Lee, Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri, and make-up artist Michelle Phan in order to promote their service. Silvestri brought his long-running comics series Cyberforce to the platform. Various other established American comic book artists and cartoonists have also partnered with LINE Webtoon over time, including Dean Haspiel (New Brooklyn), Katie Cook (Nothing Special), Seth Kushner and Shamus Beyale (The Brooklynite), and Tracy J. Butler (Lackadaisy).
In September 2016, LINE Webtoon partnered with the Patreon crowdfunding service, incorporating a "Patreon button" in the "Discover" portion of the website. This function creates an easier channel for readers and artists to mutually communicate. Naver invested US$3.6 million and $1,000 every following month for webtoon creators who reached a certain threshold of activity and popularity with a Patreon page. One month later, Naver signed with the Creative Artists Agency for film and television opportunities in the United States.
LINE Webtoon also partnered with DeviantArt in the second half of 2016, in the form of the "Artist Alley Tour". The companies were active at four Comic Cons: Boston Comic Con, Baltimore Comic Con, Rose City Comic Con, and New York Comic Con. Here, LINE Webtoon and DeviantArt held discussion panels, "Artist Alley Sponsorships", live draw events, influencer and creator demonstration areas, and on-site contests.
In 2018 included partnering with Noble Transmission and Common for the new Caster series.
In 2019 WEBTOON's subsidiary LICO collaboratively produced with Big Hit Entertainment to release Save Me as part of the former's BTS Universe (BU) which revolves around the output of South Korean boy band BTS.
On October 15, 2019, Crunchyroll and LINE Webtoon announced a partnership to produce animated works of LINE Webtoon's catalog. The two will team up to tackle the distribution, licensing, and retail of the series produced from the partnership.
The userbase of WEBTOON grew rapidly after the service was released globally, with 10 million people reading on the platform daily and 35 million people monthly. In Asia, several webtoons receive 5 million views per week. In 2016, 42% of the webtoon creators on LINE Webtoon were female, as were 50% of its 6 million active daily readers. 75% of the users in North America are 24 years old or younger and 64% are female.
As of July 1, 2019, WEBTOON has grown to more than 100 billion views annually.
Naver Corporation has held various comics competitions through its WEBTOON service. In 2015, LINE launched the "Challenge League", a recurring competition where amateur artists have the chance to become an "official LINE webtoon artist", as well as win tens of thousands of US Dollars. Over 19,000 people joined the first English-language Challenge League in February 2015, which was won by Stephen McCranie's Space Boy. Local Challenge Weeks were also held; the first Thai Challenge League was held in April 2015 and had a grand prize of 1 million baht.
In June 2015, Naver Corporation hosted the Science Fiction Comics Contest, a global competition with a grand prize of US$30,000. JunKoo Kim called science fiction, the theme of the competition, "both the broadest and fastest-growing area in comics and entertainment, [and thus] a natural fit as the genre for our second comics contest." This contest had over 800 entrants and was won by Srinitybeast's Overdrive.
In November 2018, WEBTOON selected the winner of their Discover Creator Contest, Cape of Spirits. The winner received a total of US$80,000 and an exclusive contract for the series.
Between April 2020 and July 2020, WEBTOON ran an interactive contest series titled "WEBTOON GREENLiGHT," wherein nine titles were selected and pitched to readers. The readers then voted (by liking the series' episodes) on which series would be "greenlit" as new Original series. The series had to reach a record threshold of 60,000 likes within one week. All nine series succeeded and are to be released in 2021.
On February 28, 2020 "The Short Story Contest" was announced. It ran from April 30 until June 30, 2020. The top winners would get US$15,000, an animated short and a featured contract. This was also the first contest where only short stories were allowed along with an animated short. The requirements were 3 to 5 chapters and 30+ panels per episode. The contest winners were released in two anthologies. The HEART Anthology, which began releases in September 2020, and the BRAIN Anthology, which began releases in October 2020.
WEBTOON has offered many promotional reading contests where users can win free coins. Depending on the event, coins are offered either by reading episodes from specific series or by logging in every day. These events include the Read Something Every Day Challenge, Climb the Tower Challenge, CANVAS Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Event!, Survival Mode, Royal Romance, WEBTOON Obsessed, 5 Day Survival, Trick or Treat!, The 5 Day Hunt, and No Sleep November.
Various movies, Korean dramas, animated series, and video games have been produced based on webtoons released on Naver Corporation's service. According to JunKoo Kim in 2014, "a total of 189 books, videos and games based on Naver webtoons have either been produced or are in the process of being made." However, LINE Webtoon's first entry of video content in the United States came in 2016, in the form of an animated film based on Noblesse.
On November 7, 2016, Air Seoul announced that it had collaborated with LINE Webtoon to produce pre-flight safety demonstration videos. Some of the works featured in these include Denma, The Sound of Heart, and Noblesse.
In July 2019, WEBTOON produced their first promotional animated short series from one of their exclusive originals, My Giant Nerd Boyfriend. A second set of promotions, from the work Let's Play, was released in September, 2019.
In October 2019, Crunchyroll revealed on Instagram the collaboration of itself and Webtoons for animated series opportunities. In February 2020, Crunchyroll had announced that the Webtoon Animated Series are: Noblesse, Tower of God and God of High School.
- June 2004: Korean Launch
- July 2014: English Launch ~About 10 Years Since The Korean Version
- July 2014: Taiwanese Launch
- November 2014: Thai Launch
- April 2015: Indonesian Launch
- June 2016: Japanese "Xoy" launch
- May 2017: Naver Webtoon Corp. Founded
- July 2017: Naver Webtoon's digital content production company Life Is Comic (LICO) Founded
- July 2018: Japanese Webtoons goes to Line Manga
- 2019: LINE Webtoon changed to WEBTOON
- January 2019: Xoy Merges with Line Manga
- November 2019: Spanish Version Launches
- December 2019: French Version Launches
- May 2020: WEBTOON transferred and serviced to Naver Webtoon Corp.
- November 2020: NAVER WETBOON Limited changed to WEBTOON Entertainment Inc.
- November 2020: WEBTOON's multi-platform entertainment division WEBTOON Studios Founded
- March 2021 WEBTOON Launched it's German Platform.
|Welcome to Convenience Store
|Ji Kang-min||Animated series||January 17, 2012||Broadcast on Tooniverse|||
|Oh Seong-dae||Omnibus film||June 5, 2013||Adapted in the first episode|||
|Kim Hee-min||Film||November 6, 2014||YLAB, Nomad Films|||
|Lee Jong-beom||TV series||November 23, 2014||Broadcast on OCN|||
|Seok-woo||TV series||May 15, 2015||Broadcast on KBS2|||
|We Broke Up
|Ryu Chae-rin||Web series||June 29, 2015||Broadcast on Naver TV and YouTube|||
|Son Jeho and Lee Kwangsu||Animation||December 4, 2015||DVD release by Woongjin Thinkbig Funnism|||
|ONA||Februaruy 4, 2016||Crunchyroll release|||
|Anime||October 7, 2020|||
|Cheese in the Trap
|Soonkki||TV series||January 4, 2016||Broadcast on tvN|||
|Film||March 14, 2018||Exclusive premiere in CGV theaters|||
|Kim Dal-nim||TV series||May 25, 2016||Broadcast on MBC|||
|Let's Fight, Ghost
|Im Man-sup||TV series||July 11, 2016||Broadcast on tvN|||
|The Sound of Your Heart
|Jo Seok||Web series||November 7, 2016||Broadcast on Naver TV and KBS2|||
|ONA||September 20, 2018||Naver WEBTOON YouTube Channel release|
|Web Series||October 29, 2018||Netflix release|||
|Tales of the Unusual
|Oh Seong-dae||TV Special||April 29, 2017||Adapts the short story My Wife's Memories in an episode|||
|ONA||February 21, 2019||Naver WEBTOON YouTube Channel release|
|Animated Film||September 9, 2020||Adapts the short story Beauty Water|||
|Do It One More Time
(한번 더 해요)
|Hong Seung-pyo and Kim Hye-yeon||TV series||October 13, 2017||Broadcast on KBS2|||
|massstar||Web series||November 20, 2017||Broadcast on Sohu TV|||
|Along with the Gods
|Joo Ho-min||Film||December 20, 2017||Realies Pictures, Dexter Studios|||
|Film||August 1, 2018|||
|My ID is Gangnam Beauty
(내 ID는 강남미인!)
|Gi Meng-gi||TV series||July 27, 2018||Broadcast on JTBC|||
|Before We Knew It
|Nakano Mayaka||TV series||September 9, 2018||Broadcast on MBS and TBS|||
|Tale of Fairy
|Dol Bae||TV series||November 5, 2018||Broadcast on tvN|||
|Hell Is Other People
|Kim Yong-ki||TV series||August 31, 2019||Broadcast on OCN|||
|Kim Gyu-sam||TV series||September 20, 2019||Broadcast on tvN|||
|Park Tae-joon||Web series||September 26, 2019||Broadcast on Tencent Video|||
|The Tale of Nokdu
|Hye Jin-yang||TV series||September 30, 2019||Broadcast on KBS2|||
|Eggnoid||Archie the RedCat||Film||December 5, 2019||No US release yet|||
|Go A-ra||TV series||March 25, 2020||Broadcast on KBS2|||
|Tower of God
|Lee Jong-hui||Anime||April 1, 2020||Crunchyroll release|||
|Odd Girl Out
|Morangg||Web series||April 22, 2020||Broadcast on Naver TV, V LIVE, and YouTube|||
|Boy and Girl Straight Out of Cartoon
|Nimni||Web series||June 25, 2020||Broadcast on YouTube and MBC|||
|The God of High School
(갓 오브 하이스쿨)
|Park Yong-je||Anime||July 6, 2020||Crunchyroll release|||
|232||Web series||September 1, 2020||Broadcast on KakaoTV and Naver SERIES|||
|Miku Yuki||TV series||October 3, 2020||Broadcast on TV Asahi and ABC TV|||
|Yaongyi||TV series||December 9, 2020||Broadcast on tvN|||
|Kim Carn-by and Hwang Young-chan||Web series||December 18, 2020||Netflix release|||
|She Would Never Know
(선배, 그 립스틱 바르지 마요)
|Elize||TV series||January 18, 2021||Adaptation of a Web Novel|||
|Now at Our School
(지금 우리 학교는)
|Joo Dong-geun||TV series||2021||Netflix release|||
|Rest in Peace
|CRG, Kim Gyu-sam||Film||TBA||TBA|||
|The Romantic, Fake Marriage
|TBA||TBA||TBA||Adaptation of the Web Novel by Rose Bean.|||
|A Good Day to be a Dog
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