South Korean technology and webtoon (digital comics) companies continue to succeed in the Japanese manga industry. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the online manga industry has grown significantly with increased worldwide audiences and subscriptions. In line with the increasing digital manga sales, South Korean companies are globally becoming major manga content providers.
Leading South Korean IT giants and development firms Kakao Corp and Naver Corp are operating online manga platforms with a diverse comics selection, namely Piccoma and LINE Manga. Recently, both Piccoma and LINE Manga ranked as the highest-grossing non-gaming mobile apps in Japanese app stores. LINE Manga’s third-quarter transactions increased to KRW 86 billion ($76.5 million) due to digital manga sales based on industry data. Similarly, Piccoma’s transactions amount surged to KRW 121.8 billion ($108 million).
Last year, Kakao’s Piccoma became the top-grossing manga subscription service app on Android and iOS, outperforming Naver’s LINE Manga. Piccoma attributed its remarkable performance to the Japanese manga app industry, which is valued at KRW 5.7 trillion ($5 billion).
Piccoma and LINE Manga
Both Piccoma and LINE Manga offer their users webtoon and web novel reading platforms using smartphones for portability and efficiency. Kakao’s subsidiary Kakao Japan developed and released Piccoma, while Naver’s mobile application development unit LINE Corporation launched LINE Manga. The two reading subscription services provide webtoon content in various genres, including action, romance, fantasy, mystery, horror, sports, and more.
According to Piccoma developers, the platform’s services cater to conventional manga readers and wider audience ranges.
“We thought if we could grab 5 percent or 10 percent of the bigger games market, it would drive growth,” said the Senior Manager of Kakao Japan’s Business Strategy Department, Yukiko Sugiyama.
To gain readers’ support, most of Piccoma and LINE Manga’s content is available for free. In addition to their free-reading services, these webtoon providers allow users to access manga content in advance through in-app purchases.
Following smartphone gaming approaches in which a user plays for free but pays for additional content, these manga subscription services depart from traditional entire manga volume sales.
Aside from showcasing new storytelling and drawing methods, these South Korean-backed webtoon companies lead the manga industry’s digitalization. Moreover, Korean publication firm Daewon Media announced it would be collaborating with Kakao Japan to promote webtoon content.
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