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Web comic-based dramas turn viewers’ attention to original works

A cover image of “Hellbound” (Naver Webtoon)
A cover image of “Hellbound” (Naver Webtoon)

As an increasing number of web comics make the jump from online to both local television channels and global over-the-top platforms, the rich storylines of the original works are once again enjoying the spotlight.

While the web comics brought local broadcasters smash hit dramas, the success of the adaptations have also played an essential part in growing the popularity of webtoons.

Web comics, also known as webtoons, are comics posted online that are read by scrolling down the screen, mostly on readers’ smartphones.

According to Naver Webtoon, the weekly average views of “Hellbound” have risen 22-fold after its adaptation was released on global streaming platform Netflix. The average number of those paying for the webtoon series increased by 14 times compared to the figure three weeks before the release of the Netflix version.

Responding to its worldwide popularity, Naver Webtoon is offering “Hellbound” in 10 different languages, including English, Japanese, Spanish, Thai and more.

Webtoon readers showed their love for both the original works and the drama series, discovering differences and changes.

“I need an answer now after watching 6 episodes on Netflix,” a passionate drama fan commented on the first episode of the webtoon, hoping to learn how the Netflix series’ story develops.

“I’m here because of Netflix!” another comment read.

Kakao Page’s web comic “The Uncanny Counter” is also seeing a uptick in readers after the success of a drama adaptation on cable channel OCN.

After becoming OCN’s highest-rated series, the fantasy thriller has now attracted global viewers with its release in Netflix.

The original web cartoon, with more than 150 million accumulated reads, started its service on the global web comic platform in February as well, including North American web comic publishing platform Tapas.

Kakao Entertainment also released a Japanese version via its Japanese affiliate comic platform Piccoma and started its global service in Thailand and Taiwan in the first half of this year.

While some readers came back for the comics after watching the final episode of the series, many fans were surprised to know the existence of the original work.

“I just finished watching the show for this, I can’t wait to read the comic as well,” a netizen commented on the prologue.

“I didn’t know the Netflix series was a comic!” another comment read.

While there will be a second season of the drama and the web comic‘s third season has been discussed, release dates and additional information have yet to be announced.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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