S. Korean webcomics publisher Lezhin partners with U.S. online portal Anime-Planet

By Park Sae-jin Posted : August 18, 2020, 16:42 Updated : August 18, 2020, 16:42

[Courtesy of Lezhin Comics]

SEOUL -- Lezhin Comics, a major webcomics publisher in South Korea, has forged a strategic partnership with Anime-Planet, an American online portal that provides animation content, to provide a huge library of Lezhin-exclusive webtoon titles for English-speaking online readers.

Webtoons, also known as webcomics, are cartoons that were created to match the format of internet browsers. Sometimes webtoons contain special effects and background music to provide an immersive reading experience. South Korea is the birthplace of webtoons, with its webtoon market valued at one trillion won ($843 million). South Korean digital comic books are popular in Eeast Asia.

Lezhin said in a statement on August 18 that the webtoon company would provide its exclusive content through Anime-Planet's platform. 

Lezhin made a foray into the U.S. comics market by providing the English version of South Korean webtoons through its dedicated webcomics app in 2016. Lezhin's app is popular in Google's app market, reaping bigger sales than American comics giants Marvel and DC Comics in 2018.

Anime-Planet established in 2001 is the world's largest platform for anime, also known as Japanimation, which refers to animation films created in a Japanese style. The most iconic anime series include Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and Pokemon.

The partnership is part of Lezhin's plan to diversify its content targeting fans with different preferences. The company launched Lezhin Studios, a video content-making wing, earlier this year to recreate popular webtoon series into dramas and films.

Top actors Lee Byung-hun and Park Seo-jun and actress Park Bo-young will star in the film adaptation of "Happy Boy," a mystery science fiction webtoon series published by Lezhin Comics. "Concrete Utopia," the film remake, is scheduled for release in 2021.

Lezhin Studios is working on the remake version of D.P Dog's Day, one of Lezhin Comics' most-read webtoon series, that will be released through Netflix in 2021. Lezhin Studios is also producing three webtoon-based films including "Hell" (working title), a Netflix Original film scheduled for release in 2021.

By diversifying its content, Lezhin seeks to venture into the global content market where K-pop and K-drama have laid a solid fan base. The popularity of K-content has been high since Netflix, the world's largest video content provider, mesmerized the world with hit dramas such as "Kingdom," an action zombie thriller drama series depicting zombie-infested Korea in the Joseon Dynasty (1392~1897), and "Crash landing On You," a fictional drama that depicts a love story between a North Korean Army officer and a successful South Korean female entrepreneur.

The unprecedented success of South Korean films in the international scene has also boosted the popularity of South Korean content. "Parasite," a 2019 film directed by Bong Joon-ho, surprised the world's movie industry by grabbing dozens of international film awards including four at the 92nd Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature film. Parasite became the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award recognition.
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