With the development of Web 2.0, the online publication of Korean cartoons has increased substantially. The webtoon is a new genre of publishing Korean comics (manhwa) online, and is considered a unique case in the global cartoon market. The increase of Internet users and digital cultural consumption has established conditions for fostering the platform for webtoons and their production. In addition, the popularity of Korean dramas and K-pop has cultivated the spread of webtoons in the countries receiving dramas and K-pop. This study discusses the characteristics of Korean webtoons and their development using the concept of “glocal culture.” The glocalization of Korean cultural contents is the combined result of local socio-cultural characteristics of Korea, the hybridization of global and local features, and the transnational consumption of the Korean cultural contents. Such glocalizing dynamics can be seen in the process of the consumption and creation of new forms of pop culture in the countries receiving Korean Wave products. The paper argues that webtoons should also be understood as an exemplary glocalization of Korean culture, representing the social and cultural characteristics of Korea, while also having an impact on foreign comics industries in the age of digitalization. In addition, the glocalization process of Korean webtoons promotes cultural communications establishing a global webtoon fandom.


digital culture, glocal culture, glocalization, Korean Wave, transnational consumption, webtoon

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
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Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
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Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
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University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
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University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)