This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Author: Korea Culture and Content Agency
Publisher: C&C Revolution Inc.
Date of Publication: April 30, 2008
Edited, printed and distributed by: C&C Revolution Inc.
© Korea Culture and Content Agency, 2008
Korea Culture and Content Agency
KOCCA B/D, 641-2 YeokSam-dong Gangnam-gu,
Seoul, Korea 135-080
Phone: 82 2 2 2016 4114 Fax. 82 2 2 2016 4117
C&C Revolution Inc.
4F Taerim B/D, 131-13 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu,
Seoul, Korea 135-824
Phone: 82 2 2 512 1930 Fax. 82 2 2 512 9140
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced
or utilized in any form or by means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
4 5 4 5
● Goong:The Royal Palace 50
● Hotel Africa 52
● In Seoul 54
● Kingdom of The Winds 56
● Let Dai 58
● Lineage 60
● Model 62
● Nabi 64
● On 66
● One Thousand And One Nights 68
● Pass by the Meridian 70
● Princess 72
● Red Moon 74
● Red-haired Anne 76
● Revbahaf: The Story of Rebuilding the Kingdom 78
● Run, Hani 80
● Snow 82
● Space Woman 84
● Sweet & Sensitive 86
● The Adventures of Young Det 88
● The Chronicles of Kings 90
● The Summit 92
● The Sword of Fire 94
● They Do Love 96
● Truth in Wine 98
● Two Will Come 100
● Working on Earth 102
Its Selection Process 12
Artist Column: Manhwa Told by a Leading Manhwaga
Japanese Manga and Korean Manhwa 16
Manhwa in America
The new world of charms yet to be discovered 20
● Audition 28
● Blue 30
● Bride of the Water God 32
● Cat 34
● Chocolat 36
● Ciel 38
● Crazy Love Story 40
● Cynical Orange 42
● Do Whatever You Want 44
● Dokebi Bride 46
● For Kangaroo 48
0 7 0 7
● Baby Dinosaur Dooly 106
● Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man 108
● Be Good 110
● Chonchu 112
● Crazy Locomotive 114
● Faeries' Landing 116
● Hip Hop 118
● iD_eNTITY 120
● Island 122
● Kid Gang 124
● King of Hell 126
● Kung Fu Jungle Boy 128
● Let's Be Perverts 130
● Madtown Hospital 132
● Metal Heart 134
● Now 136
● Planet Blood 138
● Priest 140
● Ragnarök 142
● Shaman Warrior 144
● Sun and Moon 146
● The Boss 148
● The Era of Aerial Sepulture 150
● The Magical Thousand Chinese Characters 152
● TheOffcial 154
● The Ruler of the Land 156
● The Vagrant Soldier 158
● Veritas 160
● Yahoo 162
● Yongbi the Invincible 164
8 9 8 9
● Marine Blues 222
● OLD DOG 224
● Papepopo Memories 226
● Snowcat’s Playing Alone 228
● The Apartment 230
● The Great Catsby 232
Manhwa by Keyword 234
Index by Title 244
Index by Author's Name 249
● An Obscure Housemate 168
● Bibim-Toon 170
● Buddy 172
● Cat Z 174
● Draw Girl 176
● Eat Away 178
● Fighter In the Wind 180
● Flower 182
● Il Ji-mae 184
● Like the Moon Escaping from the Clouds 186
● LimGeok-jeong 188
● Nice Work, Mr. Moo 190
● Nineteen 192
● Nudl Nude 194
● Rabbit 196
● Reort on the Wetland Ecosystem 198
● Run, Bong-Gu, Run! 200
● Tae-il 202
● The Crazy Adventures of the Uninvited Visitor 204
● The Demon 206
● The Incredible Mr. Hong 208
● The Land 210
● The Story of Life in the Golden Fields 212
● Tiger 214
● Tombstones 216
● Yellow Bullet 218
l0 ll l0 ll
Korea was named the “Guest of Honor” at the 2003 International Festival
of Comics in Angouleme, France. On this particular occasion, a French newspaper
Liberation reported, “Korean comics, or manhwa is no longer a peripheral of the
comic world-it has emerged as the center of Asian comics.” Although, hailing
success at the Korean exhibitions at Angouleme, the report points out that manhwa
had indeed been on the outskirts of world comics.
Since sponsoring the event in 2003, the Korea Culture & Content Agency
(KOCCA) has been involved in numerous projects to make manhwa more
widely known throughout the world. Some of our international projects include
participating in various conventions and festivals such as the “International Festival
of Comics” at Angouleme, “Comic-Con” in San Diego, the “Frankfurt Book Fair”,
and the “Leipzig Book Fair.” These events offered a window into manhwa for
professionals and the general public.
Korea’s participation at the 2003 International Festival of Comics at
Angouleme, was the starting point. Since then, manhwa has spread rapidly all
over the world. It has grown in the number of titles produced, and in quality of its
publications worldwide. Many manhwa works have been translated into different
languages and are widely read by international audiences.
We feel that the interest in manhwa has developed into the demand for
more information about its history and the identity. There is very little background
information on Asian graphic novels, especially Korean manhwa, in the European
or the U.S. markets. The history and cultural information is important to truly
understand social and nationalistic differences. Without this information, we feel,
it can create a cultural disconnect and results in the polarization of stereotypes.
This unfamiliarity is in the same context for Asian audiences trying to understand
and differentiate between French, British, German, and other artistic/cultural
In 2007, KOCCA published Manhwa, Another Discovery in Asian Comics
to talk about the unique identity of Korean manhwa in the context of history and
tradition in Asian graphic novels. While that book was an introduction, this book
seeks to give more detailed information of specific manhwas that have gained
Korean and international fame. Through this book, we hope that many manhwa
fans from around the world will gain deeper understanding of Asian graphic novels.
And, of course, it is also our hope that this book will contribute to the international
fan base of manhwa.
Have you seen manhwa?
Have you talked about manhwa?
What is manhwa?
Here we amassed 100 synopses of manhwas that will give an overview of what it is.
Manhwas are Korean graphic novels that are similar in form to Japanese mangas.
Although they are similar in form, their content and messages are distinctly
different. We have selected the ‘best’ 100 works we feel would be of international
interest. Korean manhwa is celebrating its 100th year next year. This book
commemorates the occasion by reaching out to world comic fans with an updated
selection of the very best.
There are many different genres in manhwa. Nowhere else in the world will you see
this much variety. It is not uncommon to see many conservative newspapers carry
four-page long graphic novels as well as four-cut cartoons on politics. The Internet
also carries comics of authors with different backgrounds; there you might find
well-established authors, the up and coming, and rather unknown. The “webtoon”
authors range from wannabe artists to random fans, and the web site often becomes
an arena of discussion. Oh, and we can’t forget comic magazines. They are the
professional representatives of this group. Currently, there are 10 cartoon magazines
running in Korea.
Most of comics in this book were originally published in manhwa magazines. Other
sources include newspapers and websites, and some of the manhwas were published
directly in book format. Here, you fnd an educational manhwa was selected and-
to demonstrate the power of the Internet in Korea- many webtoons were selected
among the top 100.
Manhwa has swept into in many different formats in Korea. The depth of its history
has been detailed in the book published by KOCCA, Manhwa, Another Discovery
in Asian Comics. If you enjoyed the history of Korean comics in that book, this
book will be a great reference point for actual works of manhwa that are currently
popular. The detailed introductions of the manhwa 100 are complemented with
genuine graphics from the work discussed.
Project Manhwa 100
It is our goal to bring the best and most updated list of manhwas of Korea to
international readers. We intend to be a dedicated manhwa guide for professionals,
industries, and comic fans interested in graphic novels from Korea. Our hope is that
more manhwas are introduced to the world market through the help of this book.
How Did We Select 100 Manhwas?
The nomination board for 100 manhwas was composed of 30 professionals from the
publishing industry, academia, and manhwa authors as well. They are all currently
active in the manhwa industry as copyright managers of manhwas, editors, agents,
Signifcance of Project Manhwa 100 and
Its Selection Process
0pea k M0ahw0
k Fr¡eaJ el
and authors. Academics and critics offered their perspective in the nomination and
selection process. Two copyright managers of manhwa from a U.S. publisher and
a French publisher also contributed to the process. Their input was particularly
appreciated because they offered insight into international audiences and trends.
The nomination and selection process was comprehensive look at all manhwas in
Korea. Some of the older works due to their obscurity could not be included. The
pool of manhwas was first drawn from the database maintained at the Bucheon
Manhwa Information Center. The database compiled all Korean manhwas from
early 1990s up till today. They total 4,500 manhwa titles in 65,906 actual books.
The pool included a few number of manhwas from 1970s or earlier. The selection
process covered the entire spectrum of Korean manhwa.
The principles behind the selection process
First, we only selected one work per artist. We did this to give more variety to our
selection and to give equal opportunities to all artists. We cared about the quality
of the work above all else. Secondly, we make our selections from published works
only. Works that had recently been introduced in magazines and, therefore not
published, were not included in the selection process. Thirdly, rental manhwas and
education manhwas were not included on the list of the survey in the beginning and
only were included if they were nominated by one of the board members. Rental
comics usually have many volumes in the series and are low in its artistic quality.
Educational manhwas also lack artistic edge because they are more focused on
carrying information or knowledge.
From a pool of more than 4,500 works, the publisher in charge of the project
Manhwa 100 frst sorted out 2,200 manhwas. Rental comics, education comics, and
works that were deemed not suitable to be shown to international audiences were
In the next process, 20 board members selected 100 works each from 2,200
manhwas through a survey. An electronic survey was put up to be flled out in a
way so that the board members could see the entire list overall, so all comics on
the list would have an equal chance of being selected. This pool downsized to 424
works after this process.
Thirdly, the 10 second-tier board members flled out a survey with the 424 works
as candidates. After the survey, the selections made by the frst 20 board members
and the second 10 members were gathered and used to draw points on each work
selected. Based on this list of manhwas, the second-tier members had a meeting.
This meeting reviewed the nomination and selection process of each work and
reviewed the manhwas themselves, and fnally had a vote in order to come to the
100. This discussion process included making sure no two works by one author are
selected. This is how we selected our 100 manhwas. We appreciate the work of the
30 selection board members.
was composed of ten manhwa
professionals went through the
the nomination documents of
individual works at the meeting.
Artist Column: Manhwa Told by a Leading Manhwaga.
Lee Hyun-se Born in 1954, Lee Hyun-se is a cartoonist and is currently the president of
the Korean Cartoonists’ Association. He has published more than a hundred comics and is
dedicated to popularization of comics in Korea and throughout the world. His most notable
work, The Team of Aliens was published in 1983. He is part of the Korean Cartoonists’
AssociationandteachesatSejongUniversity.HisotherworksincludeNambul: War Stories,
Legend of Heaven, and most recently Buddy.
The question I am most frequently asked by the foreign press is, “what is the
difference between Japanese Manga and Korean Manhwa.” Most often, this
question is tinged with sarcasm for they think we cannot really tell the difference
between Korean manhwa from the Japanese manga. Like many artists, I feel a bit
puzzled and irritated by this query because of the hint of cynicism it implies.
My stance on this question is this: what is the worth in discussing that? The graphic
novels with illustrations and bubbles filled with words on top of the characters’
heads go way back in history. I do not see the signifcance of discussing where it
originated from- be it either Europe or Japan.
It is true that many Korean manhwagas (Korean comic artists) were infuenced by
the Japanese comics in the beginning. This trend is being repeated in Korea right
now because many manhwagas are aware of international audiences and their tastes
towards Japanese manga. My thought on this matter is that a country’s popular
culture can only be sustained within a country’s boundary when the country has
more than 100 million people or if the country has amassed an enormous wealth by
being a pirate in the past and “colonized” many countries.
Culture is one thing, but the cultural industry is a different sort of demon. The
above reasons are why the Korean cultural industry must target the international
market, or it will perish. Korean manhwa, ironically, does not have to be Korean if
it wants to become international. Many of the Korean manhwas that have become
popular in the international markets are fantasies with a melodramatic twist because
of this very reason.
In my eyes, there is no distinction between European graphic novels and the
American counterparts in their illustrations. However, there is something innately
different between Korean manhwa and the Japanese manga. The most common
Mew lmperI0aI ls
themes of the comics are stories about the growth of the heroes. This evolution
involves friendship, love, and challenges that the heroes must rise above. But I feel
both countries approach this with a different perspective
While the Japanese samurai pulls out his sword for the completion of his skill, the
Korean warrior draws his sword in revenge of his family or to fght against his or
her sworn enemy. The Japanese hero walks the glorifed path of a hero, which is as
clear as the blood he spills, but the Korean hero trudges, stumbling upon on his own
All popular culture is based on the life of ordinary people. The difference between
the Korean hero and the Japanese hero probably stems from the historical fact that
Japan has always had internal warfare within their country, while foreign countries
have invaded Korea many times throughout our history. The endless internal strife
of the Japanese builds up a sense of hubris and elitism, while being on the defense
instills a sense of humility and compassion for others.
Case in point, the headline for the hit Japanese comic Dragon Ball was, “I want to
be the strongest person in this world.” In Tomorrow’s Joe, the boxer Joe’s intention
in the fght is to die by transcending his bodily limits in the fght until everything
becomes pure. Just before he passes, he says, “I wanted to burn my soul away until
it all became white ash.” Also, Takejo from Miyamoto Musashi, embarks on a
journey to obtain the ultimate swordsmanship in order to control his fate. His main
line is, “Ordinary fsh know how to swim in water, but ordinary fsh do not know
one thing: it does not know how deep the water runs…” This is his view on ultimate
The motivations within Korean heroes are totally different. Dokko Tak, a famous
character in Lee Sang-moo’s comic under the same title, is lonely and deprived,
but he is always smiling and not showing his sorrow. This makes Dokko Tak even
sadder. Dokko Tak, living in Japan, is furious about discrimination against the non-
Japanese in Japanese society and tries to rebel against his naturalized father and
older brother. He realizes that he cannot desert his father and brother and sacrifces
his identity in order to become part of his family.
Lim Kkuk-jung of Lee Doo-jo is a story of a butcher, the lowest caste of Korea’s
Joseon Dynasty. The butcher in the name of Lim Kkuk-jung became a hero when
all his family members were massacred by the corrupt government officials. He
picked the sword of social change with no real sword skills or strategies but was
emotionally motivated because of his family tragedy.
My own comic, Alien Baseball Team, is the same way. Six alien members of a
baseball team that were labeled failures go through harsh training until the end,
because they do not want to live their lives doing things they do not want to do.
In many ways, the Japanese manga features “I” as the hero whereas Korean
manhwa sets “we” as the hero.
Manhwa is a multi-spectrum art, so why do we look at it only one-way? Why is
the national identity of a graphic novel so important? Why do we care whether
a Korean manhwa is truly Korean and if a Japanese manga is truly Japanese? I
personally don’t care. I believe that when looking at a bowl, it is not really important
to look at the shape of the bowl. You must see what the bowl holds inside. If you
really care about how the bowl looks, you can just totally disregard the nationality
of the people, and you can be your own complete individual!
fhe Mere el J0p0aese
M0aç0 ¡s “l,” where0s
Ihe Mere ¡a 8ere0a
M0ahw0 ¡s “¥e.”
geI Ie 0e
Manhwa in America
Kim Hyun-joo is Jr. Editor at TOKYOPOP, a major Manhwa and Manga publisher
in the American market. She is a member of the acquisition team for licensing new
titles and edits most of TP’s licensed Korean titles. Currently her work includes titles
such as King of Hell, Hotel Africa, Metal Heart, Veritas and many others.
One could safely argue that America is the birthplace of graphic novels, or as
Americans call it, comic books. What could also be safely argued is the fact that
comic books, king of the graphic novels industry in the US, is currently being
dethroned by its “offspring” hailing from Korea and Japan. The apparent fall of
American comics is evidenced by dwindling sales numbers, which is a result of its
inability to expand its audience. But with the perfect blend of wonderfully detailed
art, beautiful yet realistic characters, complex and not-so-black-and-white stories,
Korean manhwa has done what comics couldn’t do (and probably never will do),
and tapped into the holy grail of consumers: young teenage girls.
Young teenage girls have long been isolated from the comic world until the new
wave of graphic novels from Asia hit America. These books, rather than shun
young girls, embraced them whole-heartedly. Young girls were the obvious and
perfectly well-suited target audience for manhwa across the genre board. Whatever
the genre, manhwa positions its heroines so that they're not simply narrating and/or
participating in the story, but so that they're actively driving the story and push
it to an ending. Female characters are not put up on any pedestal of conventional
femininity; these girls don’t get rescued by a knight on white horses, they rescue
themselves out of any lurch they might be in, and snatch a knight of their liking
right off the white horse. This sense of empowerment resonates deeply in the minds
of young female readers who are at an impressionable age.
What manhwa also does well is grab the financial force behind the core
readership—their parents. Because a volume of manhwa that might cost 4,000 won
(roughly $4) in Korea usually costs around $10 in the US (roughly 10,000 won,
plus sales tax), young readers usually fnd themselves reliant upon their parents to
make their purchases. And there are many parents out there who constantly check
up on what their kids are reading as evidenced by the letters TOKYOPOP receives
at our offce written by the parents of fans. Manhwa has an edge on this older, more
conservative group (more than manga, its Japanese counterpart) because manhwa
is tamer and more kid-friendly. There are “M” rated manhwa out there, of course,
but for the most part, manhwa tends to stay away from explicit “fan-service” and
extreme gore. And with almost all manhwa emphasizing the importance of family
and friendship, parents even feel manhwa is a good way to get their children
interested in reading.
However, manhwa currently is in a slump sales-wise. Japanese manga, having
longer history here along with big anime hits to boost its sales, has overshadowed
manhwa by establishing itself as the “genuine” Asian form of graphic novel.
When thinking of Asian graphic novels nowadays, American fans inevitably
conjure up the image of big, wide-eyed girls who can’t help but wear only mini-
miniskirts, boys whose spiky hair looks ready to poke some eyes out, and these
are preconceptions that’ll take some time and effort to dismantle. I believe that
American audience is not yet experienced enough to handle different variations to
the art style. Manhwa, with its more angular and elongated shapes as well as wider
pen lines, evoke difference between the two powerhouses of graphic novels. But as
the famous saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” so it goes for manhwa; its history,
reputation, and popularity are still being built.
In the meantime, a change could be made to manhwa that would help the growth of
its popularity in not only the US, but the world. The change I would recommend is
that the manhwa-ga change his/her view of the market. Korean manhwa market is
dying fast, but the world is just awakening to Korean manhwa. Manhwa-gas (creators
of Manhwa) must now consider themselves a global author when creating works.
I would personally like to see more manhwa tackle globally known issues and
problems rather than regurgitating the clichés that are so often found in manhwa
(like student rumbles). I would like to see comedy less reliant on use of Korean
puns and wordplay (because they’re just impossible to translate), and more on funny
situations. Also, since the length of a series does not defne or determine popularity
of a series and actually tends to drive fans away (as well as potential licensees)
as the series trudges on and on, I would suggest that unless it compromises the
integrity of the story, the series be kept short and not unnecessarily drawn out.
Going through past and upcoming manhwa in the TOKYOPOP library, I could see
that some major developments and improvements have been made in the short time
of few years. I can only wonder and salivate in anticipation as I wait for more in the
years and years to come.
The Order of
Appearance of 100
The 100 manhwas are divided into
four sections of girls’ comics, boys’
comics, general, and webtoon in
alphabetical order by its title. The
girls’ and boys’ comics are divided
by the gender of the main readers.
The general comics include other
manhwas such as adult comics.
Webtoons are manhwas that were
were separately categorized herein
given its unique appearance in
We offer the magazine or the newspaper the manhwa was first
we list the web address(es).
We offer information
of the most recent
publisher of the
manhwa in order to
avoid any confusion
regarding the manhwa’
s current copyright
Many manhwas were made into movies or a
TV dramas as well as musicals and games.
We mention examples of these mixed media
adaptations of the manhwa.
Author’s Other Works
We introduced others works by
the author chronologically. They
are mostly published books. Only
other works of the illustrator were
About the Author
the year of birth of the authors
(except for authors who chose not
to) as well as, the characteristics
of their work and their current
activities. Unfortunately, we could
not include the writer of the manhwa
due to limitations of space, and
we focus our introduction on the
For manhwas that have already been published in the U.S., we include their information
published. There are XX works that have been published in the U.S.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.