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Web novels poised to become mainstream source for S. Korean drama content

Cover image of the web novel “Sixth Sense Kiss” (left) and a still image of the Disney+ adaptation (Naver Series, Disney+)
Cover image of the web novel “Sixth Sense Kiss” (left) and a still image of the Disney+ adaptation (Naver Series, Disney+)

While webtoon-based drama series such as Netflix’s “Hellbound” and “All of Us Are Dead” drew viewers’ attention and brought global success to content creators, web novels are poised to become the next major source for other multimedia content.

A web novel is a written work available primarily on the internet.

Global streaming platform Disney+ produced its Korean original series by adapting Naver Series’ famous web novel “Sixth Sense Kiss.” Starring actors Yoon Kye-sang, Seo Ji-hye and Seo Ji-suk, the series is scheduled to be released in the second half of the year.

The web novel, written by author Got W, centers around a young woman Ye-sul, who has the special ability to glimpse the future when she kisses someone. “Sixth Sense Kiss” has 732,563 subscribers and drew 29.3 million cumulative views on Naver Series’ global platform as of Wednesday.
Cover image of web novel “Youngest Son of Sunyang Family” (left) and actor Song Joong-ki, who will star in a JTBC drama of the same title (Naver Series, History D&C)
Cover image of web novel “Youngest Son of Sunyang Family” (left) and actor Song Joong-ki, who will star in a JTBC drama of the same title (Naver Series, History D&C)

Top actor Song Joong-ki will make his small-screen return with the new JTBC drama “Youngest Son of Sunyang Family,” a TV series adapted from a web novel of the same title.

Written by author Sangyeong, the novel is a thriller and fantasy tale revolving around the lead character Yun Hyun-woo, who is reincarnated as a conglomerate chairman’s grandson.

Though the release date has yet to be announced, local cable channel JTBC said that the series will be aired sometime this year.

Meanwhile, Kakao Page’s web novel “The Office Blind Date” by author HaeHwa has proven the power of digital literature, with its rom-com television adaptation “Business Proposal” notching the No. 1 slot on Netflix’s weekly chart of non-English shows last week.

Another popular Kakao Page web novel, “Again My Life,” has also been adapted into a drama.

Starring top actor Lee Joon-gi, the first two episodes of SBS’ “Again My Life” were released on April 8 and 9.

The web novel has attracted 6.79 million subscribers.

“Similar to webtoons, web novels also have a strong fan base and growing popularity,” a Naver Webtoon official told The Korea Herald on Tuesday. While there have been drama adaptations of web novels in the past, the recent success of various webtoon-based TV series has led to a renewed attention to web novels, the official added.

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