In Korea, Japanese manga is becoming more popular but Korean manwha is also gaining popularity all around the world. Manwha is a Korean term for comics or print cartoon but outside of Korea, manwha is referring to South Korean comics. However, because of the history between Korean and Japan and the value of patriotism, manga in Korea is not as popular as other countries in Asia.
Comic culture began to flow into Korean peninsula from Japan during the colonial era (1910-1945) but manga start to fade after the year 1945. In 1945, South Korea enacted the laws that follow with many other laws to restricted the broadcast and distribution of content which is including CDs, games, manga and any other that media coming from outside the country. The laws did not specify any countries but the content of the laws was aimed at Japanese media. As a result, Koreans had no legal way to access Japanese media until 1990s. Even though all Japanese media was banned in South Korea, manga still available for people to buy and read in South Korea. Until early 1990s manga were being circulated in South Korea as manwha by hiding any Japanese elements in order to avoid criticism, for example, by changing authors name in to Korean. Manga were legal to publish in South Korea in 1998 when the law was revision, the revision allows comic book and Japanese version of comics publishing.
With the flow of manga into Korean peninsula during the colonial era, manga has influence Korean artist into creating their adaptation of manga. ‘the comics literacy of Korean readers and authors was formed in three ways: via adaptations of Japanese manga, by the distribution of pirated “how to draw manga” books, and through the spreads of comics by domestic artist who used manga style’ (Berndt, J, Kümmerling-Meibauer, B 2013, p88)
Manwha has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past few years. South Korea’s mawha related products were worth about US$133 million in 2011 which is an increase of 40 percent from 2009. Manwha is now being publish in North Africa, North America, South America, Europe and in Asia. Coming with the Korean wave, Korean Popular Culture (KPC) has been gaining enormous recognition around the world. The cultural items involve many things, such as, dramas, shows, K-pop, fashion and South Korean comics, manwha. South Korea’s government are now promoting manwha with a hope that it will take the place of Japanese manga.
Now, let us look at manga in South Korea. As manga just became legal to buy in 1998 and a popualrity of reading manwha and cartoons online (Webtoons), manga might be struggling in South Korea. Even though there are many store that sells manga and anime, many of the comic convention still focus on content from South Korea. For example, Comic World which is the biggest comic related convention in south Korea is focusing on manwha. Comic World is a event that being held quiet often both in Seoul and Busan. The convention is to celebrating ‘all things manwha‘. There is also The Seoul Animation Center, it is the first theater in Korea that devoted to animation and it also have cartoon museum, exhibition hall and many other things. The Seoul Animation Centre seem to be focus on animation from Korea but it also have Japanese anime.
Berndt, J, Kümmerling-Meibauer, B (ed.) 2013, Manga’s Cultural Crossroads, Routledge, United Kingdom.
Hong, S, Kim, C H 2013, ‘Surfing the Korean wave: A postcolonial critique of the mythologized middle brow consumer culture in Asia’,