A string of popular English-language web novels published on leading North American web fiction platforms, such as Wattpad and Radish, are getting remade as Korean webtoons for the first time, thus emerging as new potential literary sources for the country’s webcomics.
Until now, Korean online novels were primarily adapted into webtoons in the same language. Only after they proved to be a hit among the domestic audience would they be translated into different languages to reach readers worldwide.
But the recent phenomenon indicates that the reverse is also possible, whereby literary content that has already gained a huge following overseas is introduced to the Korean audience in a digital comic format.
Naver Webtoon announced this week that it will release next year a Korean-language webtoon based on Rebecca Sullivan’s hit young adult fiction, “Night Owls and Summer Skies.”
The Wattpad original series follows 17-year-old Emma Lane, who gets unexpectedly “dumped” at a summer camp by her mother. However, her plan to escape the camp goes awry after her fateful encounter with a mysterious counselor named Vivian Black.
The story of a teen LGBTQ+ romance has been read more than 666,000 times on the Canadian online fiction platform. It was also turned into an English-language webcomic of the same name on Webtoon, the American arm of Naver Webtoon, in September and has accumulated over 6.6 million views so far.
Similarly, Kakao Entertainment has recently unveiled a localized webcomic version of Violet Paige’s “Dating My Best Friend’s Sister” on KakaoPage and Kakao Webtoon. The romance series, originally released on Radish, has exceeded 48.5 million views on the New York-based web novel portal.
The company’s lineup of other online serial fiction titles that are scheduled for webtoon adaptations next year includes Jami Gallardo’s “The Billionaire’s Surrogate” and Edy Turner’s “My Pirate Prince.”
Such projects have largely become feasible after the two Seoul-based entertainment giants each took steps to acquire several prominent English-language publishing websites last year.
In 2021, Naver acquired Wattpad in a $600-million cash-and-stock deal, while Kakao Entertainment struck a total of $987.5 million in deals with three web novel and webtoon platforms in the U.S. and Hong Kong: Radish, Tapas, and Wuxiaworld.