Korean Government’s Continued Efforts to Promote Webtoon Industry: Establishing a Fair Ecosystem and Protecting Creators’ Rights

The Korean webtoon industry is growing globally, with increased readership worldwide. This amendment addresses the use of standard contracts and reflects the changing environment of the webtoon industry.

Maru Kim
Maru Kim

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of South Korea has announced that the National Assembly has passed the amendment to the Promotion of Cartoons Act. This amendment addresses the use of standard contracts and reflects the changing environment of the webtoon industry.

The long-awaited amendment to the Promotion of Cartoons Act revises the definition of the webtoon, which now includes various types of web-based comics, and creates a new definition for traditional comics. This change clarifies the distinction between ‘webtoons’ and ‘traditional comics,’ which have been used interchangeably in the past, to meet the evolving environment of the webtoon industry.

The newly revised Promotion of Cartoons Act focuses on creating a fair industry ecosystem by addressing standard contracts in the webtoon sector. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism will seek the opinions of relevant organizations and experts to create and revise these contracts. It also encourages the industry to adopt government-prepared standard contracts and will conduct a survey to assess their effectiveness. This will establish standard contracts as the norm for concluding contracts in the webtoon industry, with preferential financial support offered to webtoon businesses and related organizations that use them.

The government’s plan to foster and support the webtoon industry has been updated to address its main challenges, including promoting diversity, improving the creative environment, establishing regional balance, and promoting webtoon enjoyment among underprivileged communities. In addition, the government has established a new framework for collecting, preserving, and managing webtoon-related data, as well as conducting a survey on the industry. These efforts aim to build a strong foundation of essential data and statistics necessary for the continued growth and development of the webtoon industry.

Furthermore, the government plans to promote equal access to webtoons for all individuals, regardless of their geographical location or socioeconomic status. To achieve this goal, measures will be taken to expand opportunities for socially disadvantaged individuals to access and enjoy webtoons. Additionally, the government plans to establish infrastructure to support the balanced development of the webtoon industry across different regions.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is set to take the lead in creating a fair ecosystem and promoting policies to foster the webtoon industry with the recent revision of the Webtoon Promotion Act. The ministry plans to revise the Standard Contract for Webtoons to protect the rights and interests of creators. Additionally, the MCST Ministry plans to establish a Cartoon Promotion Committee under the Content Industry Promotion Committee to facilitate communication with the webtoon industry and collect feedback.

The Korean webtoon industry is growing globally, with increased readership worldwide. In 2020, the web-based Korean comics market reached 1.05 trillion won, and the sales of South Korean webtoons totaled 1 trillion won. South Korean agencies are the ones who implement webtoon content export to other countries. Naver Webtoon, one of the top webtoon platforms worldwide, acquired 100 billion won monthly gross merchandise value and 82 million active readerships in January 2022, hitting on Netflix series based on popular Korean-style webtoons and webcomics. According to a survey on Korean webtoon popularity worldwide conducted in 2021, webtoons are very popular, with 40% of respondents stating their interest in them. The survey also revealed that Malaysia was the top country, with approximately 60% of respondents expressing their interest in webtoons, followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, and India.

As the South Korean webtoon market popularity grows globally, webtoons are increasingly looking overseas to find success. There are many mobile applications to read webtoons, making it easy for consumers to access them. While South Korean webtoons continue to go viral in Europe, new webtoon releases have become renowned both domestically and abroad. For example, “7 Fates: Chakho,” a fantasy genre webtoon created with the collaboration of Naver Webtoon and BTS’s management company Hybe Co., was released on January 15th and inspired by BTS. It surpassed 25 million views in only two days, making it the most-viewed new webtoon released on Naver Webtoon.

With the new amendment to the Cartoon Promotion Act, the Korean government hopes to continue supporting the growth of the webtoon industry and creating a fair ecosystem. The revision of the Standard Contracts for Webtoons is just one step in a series of measures that the MCST Ministry plans to implement. With the continued success of the Korean webtoon industry both domestically and abroad, the government aims to provide an even more encouraging environment for the industry to thrive in the coming years.

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