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The Rise of Existence Manhwa: A New Era in Korean Webtoons

Manhwa, the Korean term for comics or graphic novels, has been a popular form of entertainment in South Korea for decades. However, with the advent of digital platforms and the rise of webtoons, a new genre called “existence manhwa” has emerged, captivating readers with its unique storytelling and immersive experiences. In this article, we will explore the origins of existence manhwa, its characteristics, and its impact on the Korean comic industry.

The Origins of Existence Manhwa

Existence manhwa, also known as “isekai” in Japanese, refers to a subgenre of manhwa where the protagonist is transported or reincarnated into a different world or dimension. This concept is not entirely new, as it has been explored in various forms of literature and media throughout history. However, it gained significant popularity in South Korea with the rise of webtoons.

The first existence manhwa to gain widespread attention was “The Gamer” by Sung Sang-Young, which was serialized on the popular webtoon platform Naver Webtoon in 2013. The story follows the life of Han Jee-Han, a high school student who discovers that his life is actually a video game and gains the ability to level up and acquire various skills. This unique premise, combined with the immersive storytelling style of webtoons, captured the imagination of readers and paved the way for the success of future existence manhwa.

Characteristics of Existence Manhwa

Existence manhwa distinguishes itself from traditional manhwa through several key characteristics:

  • Transported to a Different World: The protagonist is often transported to a fantasy world, either through a magical portal, reincarnation, or other means. This new world is typically filled with magic, mythical creatures, and unique cultures.
  • Power Fantasy: The protagonist usually possesses special abilities or knowledge that sets them apart from the inhabitants of the new world. This power fantasy element allows readers to vicariously experience the thrill of being extraordinary.
  • Game-Like Elements: Many existence manhwa incorporate game-like elements, such as leveling up, acquiring skills, and completing quests. This adds a sense of progression and achievement to the story, making it more engaging for readers.
  • Exploration of Morality and Ethics: Existence manhwa often explore complex moral and ethical dilemmas through the interactions between the protagonist and the inhabitants of the new world. This adds depth and philosophical undertones to the storytelling.
  • Romantic Subplots: While not a requirement, many existence manhwa include romantic subplots, often involving the protagonist and a character from the new world. These relationships add emotional depth and provide a contrast to the fantastical elements of the story.

The Impact of Existence Manhwa

The rise of existence manhwa has had a profound impact on the Korean comic industry, both domestically and internationally. Here are some key factors contributing to its success:

  • Global Appeal: Existence manhwa has gained a significant following not only in South Korea but also internationally. Webtoon platforms like LINE Webtoon and Tapas have made it accessible to readers around the world, contributing to the globalization of Korean comics.
  • Engaging Storytelling: Existence manhwa’s immersive storytelling style, combined with its unique premises, has captivated readers and kept them coming back for more. The serialized nature of webtoons, with regular updates and cliffhangers, creates a sense of anticipation and community among readers.
  • Expanding the Manhwa Market: The success of existence manhwa has led to an expansion of the manhwa market, attracting new readers and creators. This has resulted in a diverse range of stories and genres, further enriching the Korean comic industry.
  • Adaptations and Merchandising: Many popular existence manhwa have been adapted into other forms of media, such as animated series, novels, and even video games. This cross-media exposure has increased the visibility and profitability of the genre.


Some popular existence manhwa titles include:

  • “The Gamer” by Sung Sang-Young
  • “Solo Leveling” by Chu-Gong
  • “Tales of Demons and Gods” by Mad Snail
  • “The Beginning After the End” by TurtleMe
  • “The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor” by Lee Do-gyeong

2. Are existence manhwa only targeted towards a specific age group?

No, existence manhwa can be enjoyed by readers of various age groups. While some may have mature themes or violence, there are also existence manhwa that cater to younger audiences with lighter and more comedic tones.

3. How has the success of existence manhwa influenced other forms of media?

The success of existence manhwa has led to adaptations into other forms of media, such as animated series, novels, and video games. This cross-media exposure has not only increased the popularity of the genre but also opened up new opportunities for creators and expanded the reach of Korean comics.

4. Are there any notable differences between existence manhwa and isekai manga?

While both existence manhwa and isekai manga explore similar concepts of being transported to a different world, there are some notable differences. Existence manhwa often have a more serialized and immersive storytelling style, while isekai manga may focus more on action and adventure.

5. Can existence manhwa be considered a form of escapism?

Existence manhwa can be seen as a form of escapism, as it allows readers to immerse themselves in a fantasy world and experience the thrill of being transported to a different reality. However, it also offers opportunities for introspection and exploration of complex themes, making it more than just a means of escape.


Existence manhwa has revolutionized the Korean comic industry, offering readers a unique and immersive storytelling experience. With its captivating premises, engaging characters, and exploration of complex themes, existence manhwa has gained a global following and expanded the reach of Korean comics. As the genre continues to evolve and attract new readers, it is clear that existence manhwa has

Diya Patel
Diya Patel
Diya Patеl is an еxpеriеncеd tеch writеr and AI еagеr to focus on natural languagе procеssing and machinе lеarning. With a background in computational linguistics and machinе lеarning algorithms, Diya has contributеd to growing NLP applications.

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