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article imageOp-Ed: LINE Webtoon, a Web comic service, makes U.S. and global debut

By Elizabeth Brown     Sep 23, 2014 in Entertainment
LINE Webtoon recently made its global debut, as well as in the United States. The Internet comic series has been a viral sensation in Korea since NAVER launched the service in 2004.
Web and Mobile Cartoons
Executives hope that success will translate to U.S. and global audiences, though questions remain whether Asian-themed cartoons can transcend cultural bounds. To diversify its audience, LINE Webtoon intends to partner with American and non-Korean creators to broaden its content, artistry, and reach.
"Based on NAVER’s experience in discovering and providing the best webtoon content to our fans, we decided to launch LINE Webtoon globally to share them with new audiences around the world," said JunKoo Kim, director of LINE Webtoon. "In the U.S., we wanted to partner with established and up-and-coming American creators to expand our selection of titles and help them expand their fan base."
Search and Multimedia
NAVER is Korea's most popular search engine, commanding over 70 percent market share — in short, it's the Google of the Asian peninsula. In 2004, the company's founders (ex-Samsung employees) decided to leverage the search engine's popularity by targeting young Web surfers.
By appealing to the younger demographic, NAVER executives hoped that audience loyalty would translate to a defensible business model. Basically, "watch these innovative online cartoons and use our proprietary search engine."
Now, the comics will be available on mobile and smartphones, where most of online growth is taking place.
"NAVER Webtoon-based movies, TV dramas, animations, games, and plays are actively being produced, enabling NAVER webtoons to become mainstream," according to a press statement. The content will cover a variety of genres including comedy/humor, drama, horror, romance, and action. "A total of 189 books, videos and games based on NAVER webtoons have either been produced or are in the process of being made."
"YouTube-ization" of Search
The exclusivity and originality of content made this Korean search portal a multimedia website, and the webtoon series established a community of young fans and comic enthusiasts. Indeed, search engines that were able to ride the multimedia wave became more successful than competing sites.
Look at Google's popularity vis-à-vis Yahoo! and Bing. In 2006, Google had the foresight to acquire YouTube — a video-sharing platform — for $1.65 billion, and now YouTube is effectively the second biggest search engine after Google.
In Korea, NAVER's webtoon comic strips would eventually average over 6 million users per day. In the past decade, it has accumulated over 29 billion views.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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