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Cover of Pink Lady, which originally had been published as a webcomic on Naver.
Korean name
Hangul 만화
Revised Romanization manhwa
McCune–Reischauer manhwa

Manhwa (Korean pronunciation: [manɦwa]) is the general Korean term for comics and print cartoons (common usage also includes animated cartoons). Outside of Korea, the term usually refers specifically to South Korean comics.[1]


Manhwa style

The first woodcut manhwa, published in 1908.

Manhwa has been influenced by the dramatic modern history of Korea, resulting in a diversity of forms and genres,[citation needed] including a mainstream style similar to manga. Distinctive manhwa can be found in editorial comic strips, artistically-oriented works, and webcomics serials.

Typical characteristics of manhwa:

  • The face and eyes are often exaggerated in a cartoon style while the figure is more realistic in proportion.[2]
  • There is (usually) a more frequent use of gradient screentone.
  • The left-to-right reading direction of the book.
  • The Korean name of the author/artist. It is usually double-barreled and with syllables that do not exist in Japanese (usually the most reliable method of differentiating manhwa; exceptions being when a culturally-neutral pseudonym is used or when the artist is of Korean ethnicity but resides in another country).
  • The Korean names of the characters in the manhwa.
  • The untranslated sound effects (not always present) are in hangul.

There are now a number of publishers specializing in English translations of Korean comics,[citation needed] and by and large they are unafraid of calling them "manhwa." Though Korea's manhwa system developed later, the manga and manhwa industries can now be considered equal competitors, like "different brands of the same product."

Manhwa in the United States

Due to the explosion of manga's popularity in the America, many of the licensed titles acquired for the American market seek to emulate the popular elements of other successful series.[3] Recently, long-running webcomics serialized via Internet portal sites (e.g., Media Daum) and personal homepages have become both the creative and popular basecamp among the younger generation in Korea.

Direction of text

Manhwa is read in the same direction as English books, horizontally and from left to right, because hangul is normally written and read horizontally, although it can also be written and read like Chinese and Japanese: vertically from right to left, top to bottom.

Adaptation of term

The relative obscurity of Korean culture has caused the word "manhwa" to remain somewhat unknown in the English-speaking world. Instead, English translations of manhwa have achieved success by targeting the manga and anime community, to the extent that manhwa are often marketed as "manga."

Animation and live-action adaptations

Unlike Japan, animations based on Korean comics are still relatively rare (though there were several major hits in the late 1980s and early 90s with titles such as Dooly the Little Dinosaur and Fly! Superboard). However, live-action drama series and movie adaptations of manhwa have occurred more frequently in recent years. Full House in 2004 and Goong ("Palace" or "Princess Hours") in 2006, are prominent examples as both have been counted as the best dramas of their respective years.[citation needed]

In 2007, The Great Catsby, an award-winning Korean webcomic, was adapted into a live-action drama, after a run as an on-stage musical in 2006. The title was also planned to be adapted into a feature film in late 2007.[4]

Priest, a manhwa that has been translated to English, will go into production as a movie by U.S. film studio Screen Gems. To be released in 2010,[5] it is produced by Sam Raimi, directed by Andrew Douglas, and will star Gerard Butler as the title character.[6][6]

War of Money is another dramatized manhwa that has become immensely popular in South Korea, garnering much attention for its Open Source Track (OST) soundtrack and actors.

In 2004, Blade of the Phantom Master, a popular manhwa, was adapted into an animated film by a joint Korean-Japanese animation team.

Korean manhwa publishers

North American manhwa imprints

See also


External links

Manhwa information

Popular manhwa artists


Manhwa on mobiles


Information and studies

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