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Manhwa (Korean: 만화; Hanja: 漫畵; Korean pronunciation: [manhwa]) is the general Korean term for comics and print cartoons. Outside Korea, the term usually refers to South Korean comics. Manhwa is a notable part of South Korean culture but has extended its reach to many other countries. These comics have branched outside of Korea by access of Webtoons and have created an impact that has resulted in many movie and television show adaptations.
The author or artist of a manhwa is called a manhwaga (만화가; 漫畵家). They take on the task of creating a comic that fits a certain format. Manhwa is read in the same direction as English books, horizontally and from left to right, because Korean is normally written and read horizontally. It can also be written and read vertically from right to left, top to bottom.  Webtoons are also structured differently in the way they are meant for scrolling where manga is meant to be looked at page by page. Manhwa, unlike their manga counterpart, is often in color when posted on the internet, but in black & white when in a printed format. 
Manhwa art differs from manga and manhua as well with its distinct features. The bodies of characters are often realistically proportioned, while the faces remain unrealistic. Manhwas also often have very detailed clothing on their characters as well as intricate backgrounds. Webtoons use vertical scrolling to their advantage to demonstrate movement or the passage of time. Manhwa is also recognized for having less Dialogue. 
Linguistically, manhwa, manga (漫画) and manhua (漫画) all mean 'comics' in Korean, Japanese and Chinese respectively. Acoording to its Wikipedia article, "manga comes from the Japanese word 漫画, (katakana: マンガ; hiragana: まんが) which is composed of two kanji 漫 (man) meaning 'whimsical or impromptu' and 画 (ga) meaning 'pictures.' The same term is the root of the Korean word for comics, 'manhwa,' and the Chinese word 'manhua.'" The Korean manhwa, the Japanese manga and the Chinese phrase manhua are cognates (transl. "impromptu sketches") and their histories and influences intertwine with each other.
The current usage of the terms manhwa and manhua in English is largely explained by the international success of Japanese manga. Although in a traditional sense, the terms manga/manhua/manhwa had a similar meaning of comical drawing in a broad way, in English the terms manhwa and manhua generally designate the manga-inspired comic strips. Manga influenced manhwa 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. Manhwaga 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’ manhwa.
Korea was under Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945 and during this time elements of Japanese language and culture were incorporated into Korean society. The term manhwa came into popular use in Korea during the 1920s, when it was applied to cartoons. By the mid 1920s, most newspapers were shut down, and political and social cartoons were abandoned, replaced by humorous illustrations and cartoons geared towards children.
Political cartoon 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, creating diversity of styles and subject matter wich led to the construction of new genres such as sunjeong (or soonjung), stories containing romance that are aimed at young women (equivalent to the Japanese genre Shoujo). Manhwabang (Lit. Comic Room), comics cafés and stores that allowed readers to pay a set rate to sit and read comics were also introduced to the public, creating a positive atmosphere around the comics. 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 manhwa.
Webtoons are the digital form of manhwa that first came into popularity in the early 2000s due to their free access and availability on the internet. It was also beneficial to creators because it helped them get around strict South Korean censorship laws. 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.
Manhwa has reached all over the world now. With websites such as TopToon, a webtoon company from Korea that also has a global service in TopToonPlus, people are able to access a wide variety of comics from their phones.  There are also places like WEBTOON that not only allow people to read original comics, but make them as well, opening up this aspect of Korean culture for everyone to take part in.
But despite that, the relative obscurity of Korean culture in the Western world has caused the word manhwa to remain somewhat unknown in the English-speaking countries. English translations of manhwa have achieved success by targeting the manga and anime community, to the extent that manhwa were marketed as manga by the American publisher Tokyopop. 
Sanho Kim was the first manhwa artist working in the States. During the 1960s and 70s, he worked for publishers Charlton Comics, Warren Publishing, Iron Horse Publishing, Skywald Publications, DC Comics, and Marvel Comics.
According to journalist Paul Gravett, in 1987 Eastern Comics published the first original manhwas 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 Lezhin 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 manhwa titles in the hope of reaching the same audience. The readability and left-to-right orientation of manhwa contributed to its growing popularity, as did the realism of the characters and the combination of Eastern and Western styles and mythologies.
Animations 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 manhwa 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. Also that year SamBakZa produced There She Is!! 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) manhwa that aired in 2007, garnered much attention for its soundtrack and actors.
Priest, a manhwa 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.
Secretly, Greatly, a film based on a manhwa 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. Later that year Sweet Home was adapted to a live-action series by Netflix.
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