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South Korean animation
애니, 만화영화
Revised Romanizationaeni, manhwa yeonghwa
McCune–Reischaueraeni, manhwa yŏnghwa

South Korean animation, or aeni (/ˈæni/; Korean: 애니) is hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from South Korea.


The word aeni comes from the English word "animation" as written in Hangeul, 애니메이션 (aenimeisyeon), similar to Japanese アニメーション (animēshon). Just like anime, aenimeisyeon was shortened to aeni. However, aeni usually refers to Japanese animation in colloquial usage,[1] although it can refer to Korean animation or animation in general. To distinguish it from its Japanese counterpart, Korean animation is often called hanguk aeni (Korean: 한국 애니; lit. Korean animation)[2] or guksan aeni (Korean: 국산 애니; lit. domestic animation).[3]

A Sino-Korean term manhwa yeonghwa (Korean: 만화영화; Hanja: 漫畫映畫), a portmanteau of manhwa and the Korean term for movie, is also used as a general term for all animation.[4]


Main article: History of Korean animation

The South Korean animation industry was in a period of crisis throughout the 2000s. Depression at the reality of being an industry that the West merely gave factory-type drawing to begin to sink in. This followed the 1990s, a period of explosive growth for the industry when Korean studios made most of their profits from OEM, mostly from the United States, or Japan.[5]

In many ways, 2011 was a bright transitional year for Korean animation, with home-produced animated feature films finally finding box office success in South Korea, instead of facing the usual financial failure. As far as overseas export market is concerned, the likes of Rough Draft Korea (RDK) kept on landing new contracts, which have seen Rough Draft perform the manual work on over 45 popular Western cartoon titles over 16 years.[6]

South Korean animation has boomed in popularity in Eastern Asia with the success of the series Pororo the Little Penguin and Origami Warriors in 2011, leaving fans wanting to discover more Korean animations. This success is due in part to perfecting the Korean animation technique, and financial returns being reinvested into new animated products.[citation needed]

Some Korean animators still blame the booming Korean game industry for draining the animation industry's talent pool,[7] but the box office success of the Korean animated film Leafie[8] in 2011 in South Korea is inspiring a new generation.[citation needed]

Animation industry

Animation contracts for Korean animation studios range from collaboration/minor contribution contracts, to most of the work. The South Korean animation industry can be considered dynamic as there are more than a hundred animation studios. While it is mostly firms in South Korea that contract with Western studios, some of the work is reported to be subcontracted to North Korea as well.[9]

Korean animation characters in public spaces

Tayo bus 'Rudolph'


Webtoonimation (웹투니메이션) is a combination of webtoon and animation, and refers to animation produced based on webtoon.[13]

Until the mid-2010s, animation based on webtoons was not properly produced. However, in 2020, changes in the Korean animation market are beginning to occur, and animation production based on webtoons is starting.[14]

There is a possibility that the problem of absence of animation for teenagers/adults, which was a disappointing point of Korean animation, will be solved through webtoon IP. In the 2020s, most of the younger generations affected by popular culture that is open to the animation market are now adults and enter society with sufficient economic power to consume, so it is evaluated that there is a foothold. In other words, as the generation that actively consumes cartoons and webtoons in a somewhat established national economy has become adults, the animation industry, which has been marginalized, has drawn attention again.[15]

In December 2022, an animated series of popular webtoon Lookism was released on Netflix, and animation adaptations of "Seasons of Blossom"(청춘블라썸), "The Boxer"(더 복서),[16] "Guardians of the Video Game"(전자오락수호대),[17] "Terror Man"(테러맨), "Nano List" (나노리스트), "Gosu" (고수), "House Keeper"(하우스키퍼) and "True Beauty"(여신강림) are currently being made in South Korea.[18]


In 2010, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency, the Korean market share of domestic characters was about 28% and the remaining 72% was for foreign characters, such as those from Japan and U.S. In 2012, experts predicted that the total market size would grow to 10 trillion (equivalent to ₩10.63 trillion or US$9.41 billion in 2017)[19] in the near future .[20] In 2014, the domestic character market share soared to 40% and its value in 2013 had reached 8 trillion (equivalent to ₩8.4 trillion or US$7.43 billion in 2017)[19].

Korean characters as international business

Before the emergence of Korean domestic characters, characters that enjoyed popularity were mostly from the United States and Japan.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "".
  2. ^ Kim, Se Yeong (2017-09-12). ""독창성 사라진 한국 애니…아쉽다"" ["Korean animation has lost originality...a disappointment"]. The Asia Business Daily.
  3. ^ Choe, Jin Hwan (2020-04-07). "국산 애니 '바이트초이카', 18일 첫 방송" [Domestic animation 'Bite-Choicar' airs first episode on the 18th]. Hankook Ilbo.
  4. ^ "만화^영화" [manhwa yeonghwa]. Standard Korean Language Dictionary (revised ed.). National Institute of Korean Language. 2008-10-08.
  5. ^ Applegate, Ben (2012-06-28). "'홍길동에서 뽀로로까지, 대한민국 애니메이션의 역사'". Korea JTBC 뉴스룸.
  6. ^ "Korazy Art Exhibit". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  7. ^ Applegate, Ben (2005-08-19). "Animators gather as industry faces transition". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10.
  8. ^ "Finecut Sells Animated 'Leafie' to U.S., U.K., Australia". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  9. ^ Lee, Sunny (2007-03-14). "US cartoons 'made in North Korea'". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2007-03-21.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ Gang, Jieun (2015-05-29). "지하철 2호선 '라바 열차', 이달 운행 종료" ['Larve subway' on line No.2. End of this month]. Newsis.
  11. ^ Oh, Wonseok (2014-04-02). "서울시'타요버스', 이렇게 찾아요" ['Tayo bus' of Seoul city, find this way]. Bloter.
  12. ^ Song, Hwajung (2014-10-31). "롯데월드몰, 그랜드 오픈 기념 이벤트 풍성" [Lotte world mall grand open was well received]. Asia Economy.
  13. ^ 머니투데이 (2009-10-30). "네이버 '웹툰', 애니메이션으로도 즐긴다". 머니투데이 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  14. ^ 프라임경제. "최대 500조원 규모 '덕심' 사로잡을 'K-애니' 선두주자는". 프라임경제 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  15. ^ "이슈 진단, 일본 애니메이션 열풍이 던진 화두". 네이버 블로그 | 아이러브캐릭터 공식 블로그 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  16. ^ "엑스톰". Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  17. ^ "애니메이션 스튜디오 로커스, 인기 네이버웹툰 '전자오락수호대' 애니메이션 제작 발표". Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  18. ^ 김경윤 (2023-03-13). "웹툰 '테러맨' 애니메이션으로 나온다…티빙 오리지널로 제작". 연합뉴스 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-07.
  19. ^ a b 1906 to 1911: Williamson J. (1999), Nominal Wage, Cost of Living, Real Wage and Land Rent Data for Korea 1906-1939 1912 to 1939: Mizoguchi, T. (1972). Consumer Prices and Real Wages in Taiwan and Korea Under Japanese Rule. Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, 13(1), 40-56. Retrieved May 21, 2021. Afterwards, consumer price index from Statistics Korea. Consumer Price Index by year. Retrieved 3 April 2018
  20. ^ Oh, Daeseok (2014-12-28). "8조 캐릭터 시장, 도약하는 토종 캐릭터" [8 billion character market, Growing domestic character]. Business Post.
  21. ^ Hyeyoung Chu, hyunju Lee, Hyehyun Cho, Mirae Hwang (Winter 2014). "Periodic Features of Korean Character Designs" (PDF). 3.1 Period of Published Cartoon Characters (1980s~1990s).((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)