Bae, Keung Yoon ‘Becky’: "From underground to the palm of your hand. The spatiality and cultural practice of South Korean webtoons." In: East Asian Journal of Popular Culture 3.1 (2017), S. 73–84.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Bae2017
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Keywords: Digitalization, Distribution, Korea, Manhwa, Space, Webcomics
Collection: East Asian Journal of Popular Culture
‘Webtoons’ – online comics – have now been a staple of popular culture in Korea for over a decade. Both profitable and accessible, they have long since overtaken print manhwa in popularity and market size, and the cultural role that they occupy is continuing to grow. Yet in viewing webtoons as a new media form, I feel that we are in danger of eliding the important shifts occurring between manhwa and webtoons, both in terms of the content (layout, serialization format, social relevance) and the sociocultural, physical/digital space that they occupy. In my article, while I will be remarking on changes that occur content-wise, I plan to more specifically focus on media space: the physical space in which print manhwa was read, the relation of space to the sociocultural standing that manhwa occupied, and the changes that occurred with the elimination of that physical space. I plan to argue that the dramatic shift in reading space – from manhwa rental stores (which was the primary space where print manhwa was read) to electronic devices (mobile devices in particular) – is not important merely because the digital facilitates access to the comic material, but because this change of space leads to a change in sociocultural connotations attached to the genre. The mediating space that links the consumer/reader to the material is a key factor that has influenced not only how comics are read, but how comics are viewed as a kind of visual media in cultural hierarchy.
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