Manga VS Manwha

In Korea, Japanese manga is becoming more popular but Korean manwha is also gaining popularity all around the world. Manwha is a Korean term for comics or print cartoon but outside of Korea, manwha is referring to South Korean comics. However, because of the history between Korean and Japan and the value of patriotism, manga in Korea is not as popular as other countries in Asia.

Comic culture began to flow into Korean peninsula from Japan during the colonial era (1910-1945) but manga start to fade after the year 1945. In 1945, South Korea enacted the laws that follow with many other laws to restricted the broadcast and distribution of content which is including CDs, games, manga and any other that media coming from outside the country. The laws did not specify any countries but the content of the laws was aimed at Japanese media. As a result, Koreans had no legal way to access Japanese media until 1990s. Even though all Japanese media was banned in South Korea, manga still available for people to buy and read in South Korea. Until early 1990s manga were being circulated in South Korea as manwha by hiding any Japanese elements in order to avoid criticism, for example, by changing authors name in to Korean. Manga were legal to publish in South Korea in 1998 when the law was revision, the revision allows comic book and Japanese version of comics publishing.

With the flow of manga into Korean peninsula during the colonial era, manga has influence Korean artist into creating their adaptation of manga. ‘the comics literacy of Korean readers and authors was formed in three ways: via adaptations of Japanese manga, by the distribution of pirated “how to draw manga” books, and through the spreads of comics by domestic artist who used manga style’ (Berndt, J, Kümmerling-Meibauer, B 2013, p88)

Manwha has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past few years. South Korea’s mawha related products were worth about US$133 million in 2011 which is an increase of 40 percent from 2009. Manwha is now being publish in North Africa, North America, South America, Europe and in Asia. Coming with the Korean wave, Korean Popular Culture (KPC) has been gaining enormous recognition around the world. The cultural items involve many things, such as, dramas, shows, K-pop, fashion and South Korean comics, manwha. South Korea’s government are now promoting manwha with a hope that it will take the place of Japanese manga.

Now, let us look at manga in South Korea. As manga just became legal to buy in 1998 and a popualrity of reading manwha and cartoons online (Webtoons), manga might be struggling in South Korea. Even though there are many store that sells manga and anime, many of the comic convention still focus on content from South Korea. For example, Comic World which is the biggest comic related convention in south Korea is focusing on manwha. Comic World is a event that being held quiet often both in Seoul and Busan. The convention is to celebrating ‘all things manwha‘. There is also The Seoul Animation Center, it is the first theater in Korea that devoted to animation and it also have cartoon museum, exhibition hall and many other things. The Seoul Animation Centre seem to be focus on animation from Korea but it also have Japanese anime.


Berndt, J, Kümmerling-Meibauer, B (ed.) 2013, Manga’s Cultural Crossroads, Routledge, United Kingdom.

Hong, S, Kim, C H 2013, ‘Surfing the Korean wave: A postcolonial critique of the mythologized middle brow consumer culture in Asia’,


  1. Interesting! I didn’t know the history of manhwa even though I’ve read a lot of them. Mostly NetComics and Tokyopop published manhwa in English, so Boy Princess and Soul to Seoul are commonly known titles. It’s good to include Korea’s digital presence in the comic world. Titles like Noblesse, Nineteen Twenty-One, and Shut Up Flower Boy are becoming popular in the same way Japanese doujinshi are making headlining titles (One-punch man, etc.).


  2. The way Korea so closely guard their cultural integrity, often to the point of blatant xenophobia, has always fascinated me, so I found your documentation of manga discrimination quite interesting. It was not made clear whether manwha was spawned by manga or if the existing work of Korean artists was influenced by the influx of Japanese media in the colonial era you describe, and I believe this would be an interesting area of study on this topic.

    I also noticed the way in which you’ve combined traditional scholarly writing and personal autoethnography, creating a writing style that doesn’t quite achieve the goals of either. This is not intended as an insult, rather a comment from which you can examine your own style of writing. You’ve presented some great research and drawn on what seems to be personal knowledge, but where one starts and the other ends needs to be highlighted through self-reflective analysis.


  3. You wrote quite an informative, well written and referenced blog post about Manga and Manwha, however I failed to see the autoethnographic contribution to your post. What has been your experience of either of these mediums? What’s the consumption of it like in Australia? You provided some reflection, but I feel like you need to go and find out fort yourself what the difference between the two mediums are.


    1. Hi thanks for the comment. This post is not autoethnography post. The past 4 post is intended to be informative post as its look at manga in different countries and the last post (and final project) will be my autoethography post which will include my overall experience of looking at manga and anime indifferent countries and also about manga and anime in Australia. I also have been reading a lot of manga, manwha and manhua (Chinese comic) so i think that I already know a few different between these type of comics.


  4. Having no idea about what ‘Manga and Manwha’ are this post was fairly informative and gave a good background on your chosen topic. I think that this would be a good post for people to read before reading any of your other auto-ethnographical posts. It would be interesting to research into elements of how Korea perceives Manga and Manwha and how Australia perceives Manga and Manwha – what are the differences? How did you first feel? Is it prevalent in other countries as well as Korea or is Korea the only Asian country? Good post!!!!


  5. I like that you’ve used this as a way to build up to your autoethnographic project, I think that it’s a great way to use these blog posts because there’s not enough of a word count to be able to explain all the background information in your essay/reflection.
    I had no idea about the whole Korea/Manga/Manwha relationship before reading the post. In relation to Nicole’s comment above, does Manwha even exist in Australia? Good idea of comparing Manga in Australia as well as other in other countries, it will be different to see how it has been received worldwide.


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