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Entertainment

Naver to create webtoons of DC Comics' series, HYBE artists

Naver is collaborating with DC Comics, HYBE to release the webtoons of their content, artists

By Aug 18, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

(Courtesy of DC Comics)
(Courtesy of DC Comics)

Naver Webtoon Corp., the digital comics platform of South Korea's top online portal, is collaborating with BTS' agency HYBE Co. and DC Comics Inc. to create webtoons about their artists, as well as of their new series.

As part of an effort to bolster storytelling content, Naver will expand its partnerships with other global content producers and secure exclusive rights to roll out the web-based comics or novels of their original content, Naver Webtoon Chief Executive Kim Jun-koo said on Aug. 18.

"We will release completely original content of DC Comics which has not been published yet," Kim told reporters during an online media session.

In a collaboration with HYBE, the country's dominant online platform will release exclusive content based on the boy band BTS and other artists of the leading K-pop agency.

The CEO did not elaborate further on its collaborative works with HYBE and the US publisher of comic book series. 

Its partnership with DC Comics heralds fiercer competition with Kakao Corp. as their rivalry is extending into various business areas such as fintech and shopping and beyond the home turf.

Since 2019, Kakao has been in collaboration with DC Comics. In April of this year, the country's largest mobile platform rolled out webtoons of DC Comics' popular series such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League.
The webtoon version of Marvel Studio's hit Black Widow
The webtoon version of Marvel Studio's hit Black Widow

To compete with Kakao, Naver has been cooperating with DC's archrival Marvel Studios.

Last month, Naver released its first episode of the webtoon version of Marvel Studio's spy thriller Black Widow. It marked the first time that an original Marvel comic was made into a webtoon, kicking off the Marvel Webtoon Project.

Starting in September, Naver will also publish webtoons based on Marvel Studio's intellectual property portfolio, including Eternals, Avengers, Spider-Man and Hulk.
Naver Webtoon CEO Kim Jun-koo
Naver Webtoon CEO Kim Jun-koo

On Wednesday, Naver unveiled the average income of the webtoon creators registered with its platform. The unidentified highest-paid creator earned as much as 12.4 billion won ($10.6 million) last year, about four times that of Naver Corp. Chief Executive Han Seong-sook' 2020 remuneration of 3.4 billion won, which includes her performance bonus.

The hefty income was attributed in large part to Naver's page profit sharing program, under which the portal shares profits with its webtoon creators from ads and character goods sales, as well as other paid content involving their webtoon characters. 

On average, webtoon creators registered with Naver earned 280 million won in 2020. New creators with experience of less than one year reported an average income of 150 million won last year.

In January of this year, Naver acquired the world’s biggest web novel platform Wattpad for almost $600 million, followed by Kakao's purchase of US-based mobile fiction startup Radish Fiction Inc. and the third-largest US digital comics platform Tapas Media Inc. 

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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