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Online Comics Worth 45 Billion Won

Posted December. 05, 2005 07:09,   


Cyworld, a portal site, recently introduced an Internet cartoon service called “Crayon.”

Less than five people can exchange a comic book for four days and three nights for a rental fee of 300 won per book. The service is tantamount to a book rental store on the PC.

Growth of the Internet comic market-

According to Korea Culture and Content Agency, the Internet comic book market, worth about 16.9 billion won in 2002, more than doubled to 35 billion won in 2004. Daum, the No.1 Internet portal site in Korea, provides a service that transforms over 50,000 comic books into digital picture files.

With the soaring popularity of Internet comic books, the perception of cartoonists has changed. They first publish their comic books on the Internet rather than through comic book magazines or independent volumes. Among them are veteran cartoonists such as Won Soo-yeon and Lee Mi-ra.

They favor the Internet for publishing their cartoons because of the stable income to be found there.

In the case of off-line books, no matter how many books are rented at book rental stores, a royalty for only one book goes to copyright holders, which means even being a best seller cartoonist doe not necessarily mean a huge income.

Meanwhile, the income generated through Internet book services is shared by the portal site, the company in charge of file conversion, and copy right holders (publisher and cartoonist). The share of the income varies depending on the cartoonist, but it is usually 4:3:3 among them, according to “Contents Plug” an Internet cartoon contents provider. Therefore, the more books are rented, the more income the cartoonist will have.

However, not all cartoonists welcome the Internet comic book service, due to the concerns of online piracy of comic books, which happens when one converts comic books into digital picture files with the help of scanners and circulates them online illegally.

The Animation Copyright Protection Association shuts down 2,000-3,000 illegal animation sites every month, but as many illegal sites are created every month.

Oh Tae-yeop, a deputy general manager at Daiwon C.I. said, “Still, 25% of Korean cartoonists and 75% of Japanese cartoonists are reluctant to publish their books online. Unlike the case of music CDs in which illegal copy prevention technology is available, there is no way to prevent the illegal copying of comic books yet.”

New Possibility of Internet Cartoons

The comic book market is estimated to be worth more than 45 billion won this year. It is important to develop new content to keep the growth momentum going. The comic book industry looks to the Internet cartoon as a suitable method for developing new content.

The cartoon service of Daum will hold a “University Cartoon Festival” until December 8. The festival provides a venue for university students to show their works to the public.

Paran, an Internet portal site, also announced earlier this month that it will start an Internet serial cartoon publishing service. It will publish cartoons that became popular online in collaboration with Minumsa, an offline publisher.

Lee Hye-young, a team leader at Contents Plug said, “The key to a content industry is the production of excellent new content, but the offline publishing market has been negligent about identifying and nurturing new cartoonists. I believe the Internet cartoon service will be instrumental to developing great local content.”

Sang-Hoon Kim sanhkim@donga.com