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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 greatly influenced by Japanese Manga comics. Modern Manhwa 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 tend to be 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 webtoons are also recognized for having simplified dialogue compared to print.
Linguistically, manhwa, manga (漫画) and manhua (漫画) all mean 'comics' in Korean, Japanese and Chinese respectively. According 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.
Originally the term manhua in Chinese vocabulary was an 18th-century term used in Chinese literati painting. The term manga was used in Japan to mean "comics" in the late 19th century, when it became popular. Since then, accordingly manhwa, manga (漫画) and manhua (漫画) are all became to mean 'comics' in Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
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.
During the Korean war, Manhwa was used with the aim of boosting the morale of the public. The popularity of comics rose during the 1950s and 1960s, creating diversity of styles and subject matter which 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). Also around this time another more humorous genre, myeongnyang or happy comics had become popular in order to counteract gritty ones. Manhwabang (lit. comics 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.
In the 1990s, the ban on Japanese media was lifted, which helped to influence the present-day art and styles of contemporary Manhwa. Around this time was when Manhwa had come up in North Korea as well. Then in the early 2000s, the majority of Manhwa was transferred to online sources due to economic collapse that South Korea had experienced at the end of the millennium. because of its transfer to online sources, its popularity overseas has risen. This led to the South Korean search portal to launch LINE Webtoon, a platform for distributing online Manhwa.
The term "Webtoon" (웹툰) is a portmanteau of the Korean words 웹 meaning web and 카툰 meaning cartoon. The term was first coined on 8 August 2000, by Chollian, one of South Korea's oldest and now discontinued internet service engines. 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. Webtoons encourage amateur writers to publish their own stories for others to read. 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.
In 2014 WEBTOON's global website and mobile app were launched, revolutionizing the comic world's way of reading for entertainment. Also, around this time JunKoo Kim, the person that started LINE Webtoon, had reported that Webtoon was used in 60 countries, had 55 million monthly users, and 100 billion annual views.
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 1970s, 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.
See also: Category:Works based on manhwa
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. Below is a list of manhwa titles adapted into television series, web series, and films. Not to be confused to another adapted works of adapted from Webtoons.
|Lee Sang-hyeop and Ahn Jae-hong and Noh Soo-hyun||Film||1926|||
|TV series||30 May 2012||Bridal Mask SPC
|Space Black Knight
|Huh Young-man||Animated film||1979|||
|Alien Baseball Team
|Lee Hyun-se||Film||2 August 1986|||
|The Last Station
|Huh Young-man||TV series||14 September 1987||Broadcast on MBC|||
|Dooly the Little Dinosaur
|Kim Soo-jung||Animation||7 October 1987 - 1989||Daewon Media
Broadcast on KBS
|Animated film||24 July 1996||Dooly Nara (Dooly Nation), Seoul Movie|||
|Animation||8 January 2009||Broadcast on SBS, Tooniverse|||
|The Chameleon's Poem
|Huh Young-man||TV series||14 May 1988|||
|Huh Young-man||Animation||15 August 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2001||Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd.
Broadcast on KBS1
|Huh Young-man||TV series||17 May 1995||Broadcast on SBS|||
|48+1||Huh Young-man||Film||4 November 1995|||
|Huh Young-man||Film||3 May 1997|||
|Huh Young-man||TV series||20 May 1998||Broadcast on SBS|||
|Yang Young-soon||OVA||October 1998, 1999||Seoul Movie|||
|We Saw the Bird Lost in the Middle of the Road
(우리는 길 잃은 작은 새를 보았다)
|Hwang Mi-na||TV series||19 April 1999||Broadcast on KBS2|||
|Blade of the Phantom Master
|Youn In-wan and Yang Kyung-il||Animated film||4 December 2004||Oriental Light and Magic and Character Plan|||
|Won Soo-yeon||TV series||14 July 2004||Kim Jong-hak Production|||
|Huh Young-man||Animated film||6 August 2004|||
|Goong ("Palace" or "Princess Hours")
|Park So-hee||TV series||11 January 2006||Eight Peaks|||
|Kim Se-yeong and Huh Young-man||Film||28 September 2006||Sidus FNH|||
|TV series||16 September 2008||Olive9 and Dong-ah Institute of Media and Arts|||
|War of Money
|Park In-kwon||TV series||16 May 2007||Victory Production
Broadcast on SBS
|TV series||7 March 2008||Broadcast on tvN|||
|TV series||6 January 2015||Kansai Television Co. Ltd.|||
Le Grand Chef
|Huh Young-man||Film||1 November 2007||ShowEast Co Ltd|||
|TV series||17 June 2008||Broadcast on SBS|||
|Film||28 January 2010||IROOM Pictures|||
|Huh Young-man||TV series||7 April 2008||Broadcast on SBS|||
|Hyung Min-woo||Film||13 May 2011||Screen Gems|||
|The 7th Team
|Huh Young-man||Film||17 July 2013 (South Korea)
18 July 2013 (China)
|Showbox/Mediaplex (South Korea)
Huayi Brothers (China)
|Would You Like a Cup of Coffee?
(허영만의 커피 한잔 할까요?)
|Huh Young-man||Web series||24 October 2021||Broadcast on KakaoTV|||
|Kim Dong-hwa, Han Seung-won||Webtoon||12 May 2023|||
Note: select publishers only
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