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Korean webcomics expand presence in manga home of Japan
According to Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea

South Korean webcomics are making fast strides in the traditional manga powerhouse of Japan through their smart mobile business models and localized favor.

The Korean pioneer to the home of manga and anime was NHN Entertainment Corp., a major online game and services provider. Its comic-reading platform Comico launched on October 2013 quickly grabbed the attention from the comic-loving population as the first player to introduce webtoon, Korean webcomics published specifically in online format and not as a digitalized version of print comics.

The Comico app has been downloaded by more than 15 million individuals and contains over 16,000 contents. It successfully made the transition from free to paid services late last year, according to the company. An official from NHN Entertainment credited its success to “fine-tuned localization,” such as translating texts taking into account Japanese reading habits and changing the color of police cars to the Japanese black and white.

Kakao Corp., Korea’s leading mobile app operator, began comic platform Piccoma on April 2016 after failing to make headway with its chat service Kakao Talk in Japan. The app saw its number of monthly visitors surge 50-fold to 2.5 million in less than a year, with average daily transaction value surpassing 100 million won ($88,472). As of early September, it was the most downloaded app in Japan and raked in the second biggest sales in App Store’s book category.

Piccoma’s success is attributed to a novel concept in Japan in which viewers are allowed free access to comics after a certain period, according to the company. This service has generated renewed interest in past contents and driven up revenue and readership. Piccoma is considering going public on the Tokyo bourse in 2020.

Despite their success on the mobile platform, the service providers cannot keep up with the supply pipeline as Korean comic contents cannot match the rich manga hoard of Japan, said market observers.

Out of the 1,000 publications available on Piccoma, only a handful of the creators are Korean. Piracy of contents overseas is also a key concern.

Illegal copying is thwarting webtoon market growth, according to an industry insider. Effective measures to protect copyrighted works need to be imposed not only in Korea but elsewhere, he added.

Piccoma and Comico [Photo by NHN Entertainment Corp.]

By Cho Hee-young

Copyrights Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea (Sep. 20, 2017)

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