SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — In the midst of the rapid growth of the South Korean content industry, the competition between Naver Corp. and Kakao Corp., the two major tech companies, is heating up to secure story content like webtoons and web novels.
Naver Webtoon, the webcomic arm of the nation’s top portal operator, acquired a 56.26 percent stake in the nation’s largest web novel platform Munpia for about 170 billion won (US$143 million) last month, becoming the platform’s largest shareholder.
In May, it took over Wattpad Corp., a global multiplatform entertainment company for stories, and established the Wattpad Webtoon Studio in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Kakao Entertainment, an entertainment arm of Kakao, invested more than 1 trillion won in May to acquire U.S.-based online comic app Tapas and fiction app Radish.
The main factor behind the push to acquire a string of foreign webtoon and web novel platforms is the fact that compared to films and dramas, webtoons and web novels enable them to make forays into global markets with relatively modest production costs.
At present, Naver is providing webtoon and web novel services in about 100 countries including the U.S. and France, with its number monthly users estimated at about 167 million worldwide.
Compared to Naver, Kakao was late entering the global market, but recently grabbed the No. 1 spot in the category of webtoons in Japan and Thailand.
M. H. Lee (email@example.com)