- Serial No. 51
The cartoon industry in Korea has continued to decline due to the contraction of published comics market and decrease in the number of comic books rental stores until the 2000s when it rapidly started to experience qualitative changes and quantitative growth due to the emergence of webtoon. The market size of webtoon industry, valued at 420 billion won in 2015, is expected to grow to 880.5 billion won by 2018. Notably, most cartoonists who draw cartoon strips are using digital devices and producing scripts in data, thereby overcoming the geographical, spatial and physical limitation of contents. As a result, a favorable environment for the creation of local ecosystems is generated. While the infrastructures of human resources are steadily growing by region, cartoon industries that are supported by the government policy have shown good performance combined with factors of creative infrastructures in local areas such as webtoon experience centers, webtoon campuses and webtoon creation centers, etc. Nevertheless, it is true that cartoon infrastructures are substantially based on a capital area which leads to an imbalanced structure of cartoon industry. To see the statistics, companies of offline cartoon business in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province make up 87%, except for distribution industry. In addition, companies of online cartoon business which are situated outside of Seoul and Gyeonggi Province form merely 7.5%. Studies and research on local webtoon are inadequate. The existing studies on local webtoon usually focus on its industrial and economic values, mentioning the word "local" only sometimes. Therefore, this study looked into the current status of local webtoon of the present time for the current state of local cartoon ecosystem, middle and long-term support from the government, and an alternative in the future. Main challenges include the expansion of opportunities to enjoy cartoon cultures, the independence of cartoon infrastructure, and the settlement of regionally specialized cartoon cultures. It means that, in order to enable the cartoon ecosystem to settle down in local areas, it is vital to utilize and link basic infrastructures. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider independence and autonomy beyond the limited support by the government. Finally, webtoon should be designated as a culture, which can be a new direction of the development of local webtoon. Furthermore, desirable models should be continuously researched and studied, which are suitable for each region and connect them with regional tourism, culture and art industry. It will allow the webtoon industry to soft land in the industry. Local webtoon, which is a growth engine of regions and main contents of the fourth industrial revolution, is expected to be a momentum for the decentralization of power and reindustrialization of regions.
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