Shin Gyu-seub, a web developer from South Korea, has long been keen on internet entertainment such as web comics and web novels. However, he has frequently irritated by the lack of quality.
At the age of 31, in 2015, he decided to launch Manhua which is a website for manhua,manhwa and webtoons digital comics, and web novels fans. He said that everyone from amateurs to professionals could write and share their own stories and earn money on this platform because it was an open platform.
Manhua has been a favorite place of amateurs despite its inferior compared to Naver Webtoon and Kakao Webtoon. The reason why is their works are not filtered by the site and that leads to a wider range of content of them being available on Manhua. The platform assists artists and writers get sponsored for their jobs and building up their fan base. Anyone can create their stories and be allowed to publish them on the website without any contracts, unlike some other platforms. By uploading their works, they can earn money by charging fees to the audience. There are about 4.8 million active users per month (14% of them are in outside South Korea) and over 200k authors who are posting their works on this platform accounting for 15% of each author’s revenue as commission.
Kim Min, an author of The Lucid Memories a famous webtoon on Tapas says that she attempted but failed to get access to the two larger platforms which preferred to be scrollable and colored while Manhua was a black-and-white page-flipping format that made her feel more comfortable and freely creative. Manhua was rated 108th in this year’s Kpop idols ranking of high-growth Asia-Pacific firms due to its increasing popularity. It gained its position with a 92% compound annual growth rate in revenue from 2017 to 2020, bringing the total to $2.9 million.
It can be said that Japan hosts the manga market, whereas South Korea is pioneering the digital transformation, providing web comics and novels to readers. Despite being unpopular outside the Japanese and South Korean markets, Korean movies have been expanding to Asian markets. The state-run Creative Content Agency reported that the Korean market had gained 1,05 trillion won ($0.85 billion) in revenue, increasing by 65% in 2020.
Some dramas such as All of Us Are Dead, Sweet Home, and Hellbound are famous films on Netflix on global, adapted to Korean webtoons. Although Manhua has not yet any webcomics, they still hope some popular comics will be chosen soon. Shin says that if they are given a chance, it will be a big spot for us to grow, in addition, the film producers can rely on worked stories to minimize their production risks dramatically.
The intellectual property rights of almost Manhwa meaning have been secured by Manhua. Romance Manhwa, a famous webtoon that gained 9.5 million views on Postype, was adapted into a movie. The firm is also making a roman comic – Make it Real.
Shin believes that the increasing popularity of his platform is due to the success of films that are inspired by comics. The company is tending to globally spread, especially, in the Japanese and North American markets next year.
Shin wants the talent of writers to be recognized worldwide and he is confident that some famous titles in South Korea can get the same success on the global stage. In the ranking, there are 51 companies from South Korea. Second-placed PCL, a multiplex immunodiagnostic firm, and third-placed Spolive, a real-time sports commentary app, are among them. Both have a yearly compound growth rate of greater than 350%.
Shin also hopefully expects the growth of the webtoon industry. The target audience is GenZ, who were born after 1995, and are willing to pay for the online content. According to statistics, the monetary spending by users on the platforms gain 23 billion won last year, increasing 75%, and is desired to be over 30 billion won this year. Shin guesses that teenagers will spend more money when they start working. Additionally, Webtoon will be the key content and they want to be the main player.