WEBTOON is a webtoon publishing portal launched by Naver Corporation in Korea in 2005.. The service gained a large amount of traction during the late 2000s and early 2010s. The service 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 the country and some of its services are also not available outside of Korea. 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 service in Japan and migrated all of its translated and original webtoons to LINE Manga, its manga service that offers licensed manga.
Logo of the website
Type of site
|Available in||Korean, Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai|
|Created by||JunKoo Kim|
|Alexa rank||2,057 (02/2020)|
LINE Webtoon was founded by JunKoo Kim in 2005, 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 manhwaga were willing to do something different because of the poor state of the local manhwa industry.
On July 2, 2014, the Line Webtoon website and mobile app were launched worldwide; shortly later, international artists became able to upload their own works to the service. 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 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 to support webtoons they enjoy. 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.
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 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. 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.
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 $30,000 USD. 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 $80,000 USD and an exclusive contract for the series.
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 7 November 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 animated series from one of their exclusive originals, My Giant Nerd Boyfriend.
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