(; ) is the general Korean term for comics and print cartoons (common usage also includes animated cartoons). Outside Korea, the term usually refers to South Korean comics, although the comics industry is emerging in North Korea as well.

History of the term

Linguistically, , ''manga'' () and () all mean 'comics' in Korean, Japanese and Chinese respectively. The Korean and the Japanese ''manga'' are cognates of the Chinese phrase (). The current usage of the terms and in English is largely explained by the international success of the Japanese manga. Although in a traditional sense, in these languages the terms manga// had a similar meaning of comical drawing in a broad way, in English the terms and generally designate the manga-inspired comic strips. The term came into popular use in Korea during the 1920s, when it was applied to cartoons. Korea was under Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945 and during this time elements of Japanese language and culture were incorporated into Korean society. By the mid 1920s, most political newspapers were shut down, and political and social cartoons were abandoned in favor of children’s and humorous illustrations. Political cartoons slowly reemerged following the establishment of the Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea) in 1948. During the early years of Japanese occupation, newspaper comics featured a great deal of social criticism. Popular artist Kim Yong-hwan started Korea’s first comic magazine, ''Manhwa Haengjin'', in 1948, but it was quickly shut down because the authorities disapproved of the cover. The popularity of comics rose during the 1950s and 1960s, and the diversity of styles and subject matter led to the creation of new genres such as sunjeong (or soonjung), romantic stories aimed at young women (equivalent to the Japanese genre Shoujo). Manhwabang, comics cafés and stores that allowed readers to pay a set rate to sit and read comics, were also introduced to the public. In response to the increasing publication of comics, as well as social and political changes within South Korea, the government began to enforce censorship laws and, by the mid-1960s, created a comics distribution monopoly that further censored . Manga influenced from the medium’s beginnings during the Japanese occupation of Korea and continued to exert a powerful influence as the manga industry became a major force within Japanese culture and began to export comics abroad. The author or artist of a is called a (). were not culturally isolated, and the influx of manga into the Korean comics market had a strong effect on the art and content of many artists’ .

Adaptation of term

The relative obscurity of Korean culture in the Western world has caused the word to remain somewhat unknown in the English-speaking world. English translations of have achieved success by targeting the manga and anime community, to the extent that were marketed as ''manga'' by the American publisher Tokyopop.


Webtoons first came into popularity in the early 2000s due to their free access and availability on the internet. Since their creation, webtoons have gained popularity around the globe and have even been adopted outside of Korea as another form of comic publication. This is credited to their unique format and pay model.

Korean publishers

Note: select publishers only *Daewon C.I. *Haksan Culture Company *Seoul Culture Corporation *Shinwon Agency Corporation

in the United States

Sanho Kim was the first artist working in the States. During the 1960s and 70s, he worked for publishers Charlton Comics, Warren Publishing, Iron Horse Publishing, Skywald Publications and Marvel Comics.Kim entry
Lambiek's Comiclopedia. Accessed June 9, 2011.
According to journalist Paul Gravett, in 1987 Eastern Comics published the first original in the United States. Due to the explosion of manga's popularity in the Americas, many of the licensed titles acquired for the American market seek to emulate the popular elements of other successful series. Recently, long-running webtoons serialized via Internet portal sites (e.g. by Daum Media), like Lehzin Comics, and personal homepages have become both the creative and popular destination among the younger generation in Korea. With manga proving to be both popular and commercially successful in Europe and the United States, a number of publishers imported and translated titles in the hope of reaching the same audience. The readability and left-to-right orientation of contributed to its growing popularity, as did the realism of the characters and the combination of Eastern and Western styles and mythologies. Popular in the U.S. and European markets include ''Ragnarok'', ''Priest'', ''Island'', and ''The Tarot Café''.

Direction of text

is read in the same direction as English books, horizontally and from left to right, because hangul is normally written and read horizontally, although it can also be written and read vertically from right to left, top to bottom.

North American imprints

*ADV Manga *Dark Horse Manhwa *DramaQueen *DrMaster Publications *Media Blasters *Netcomics *NBM ComicsLit *Seven Seas Entertainment *SuperAni *Manta Comics *UDON's Korean Manhwa *Yen Press

Animation and live-action adaptations

Animation based on Korean comics are still relatively rare (though there were several major hits in the late 1980s and early 90s with titles such as ''Dooly the Little Dinosaur'' and ''Fly! Superboard''). However, live-action drama series and movie adaptations of have occurred more frequently in recent years. ''Full House'' in 2004 and ''Goong'' ("Palace" or "Princess Hours") in 2006 are prominent examples, as both have been counted as the best dramas of their respective years. In 2004, ''Blade of the Phantom Master'' was adapted into an animated film by a joint Korean-Japanese animation team. ''SamBakZa'' produced ''There she is!!'' in 2004, which is about the developing relationship between a rabbit and a cat. ''The Great Catsby'', ran as an onstage musical in 2006. In 2007, the award-winning Korean webtoon was adapted into a live-action drama. The title was also planned to be adapted into a feature film in late 2007. ''War of Money'', a dramatized (adapted version) that aired in 2007, garnered much attention for its soundtrack and actors. ''Priest'', a by Hyung Min-woo that has been translated to English, was adapted into the 2011 American sci-fi action horror film of the same name by Screen Gems. Released in 2011, it was produced by Michael DeLuca, directed by Scott Stewart, and stars Paul Bettany as the title character.Olsen, Kevin Noel (January 25, 2007)
"Amityville Director Set to Direct Priest Film Based on Tokypop Graphic Novel"
. Silver Bullet Comics.
Fischer, Martha (June 26, 2006)
"Butler to Priest"
''Secretly, Greatly'', a film based on a webtoon, became a top-grossing film in 2013. In 2020, Tower of God, The God of High School, and Noblesse received Japanese adaptations via Crunchyroll. In 2020 Sweet Home has be adapted to a live action series by Netflix.

See also

*List of manhwa *Myeongnang manhwa *Manhwabang *Culture of South Korea *Korean Wave *Korean animation *Webtoon *Video gaming in South Korea


* * * * * * *
"Korean Comics in the U.S., Part 1, Comic-Con International 2004,"
Jade Magazine.com, Sep. 2004
"Korean Comics in the U.S., Part 2, Manhwa Sampler,"
Jade Magazine.com, Sep. 2004
"Sang-Sun Park, ''Les Bijoux'' Comic Artist,"
Sequential Tart.com, Aug. 2004
Manhwa site for "Demon Diary" (마왕일기)"Infinity Studios and Manhwa,"
Anime Tourist.com, 16 June 2004
Our Toys, Our Selves: Robot Taekwon V and South Korean Identity
*Cain, Geoffrey
"Will the Internet Kill the Manhwa Star?"
''The Far Eastern Economic Review'', November 6, 2009

External links

Popular manhwa artists

Hyung-tae KimKim Jung-Gi


Bucheon Manhwa Information CenterBucheon International Comic FestivalSeoul International Comics and Animation FestivalDong-a/LG International festival of comics and animation

Manhwa on mobiles

Moonk Mobile Cartoon


Cartoon & Animation Society in KoreaSeoul CartoonThe Korean Cartoonist AssociationKorean Women Cartoonist AssociationAmateur Comics AssociationKorea Amateur Comic Land

Information and studies

Korean Society of Cartoon & Animation StudiesSeoul Animation CenterPuchon Cartoon Information CenterThe Korea Society Manhwa Exhibit