East Asian Perspective in Transmedia Storytelling | Dynamics Between Agents in the New Webtoon Ecosystem in Korea: Responses to Waves of Transmedia and Transnationalism

Jane Yeahin Pyo, Min-Gi Jang, Tae-Jin Yoon


Many forces have shaped the webtoon ecosystem into what it is today. The structure constantly evolves as webtoons gain popularity in and outside Korea and the number of agents entering the production field grows. Transmedia and transnationalism are also important factors that affect the structure of the webtoon ecosystem. This article portrays the lives of agents residing in the larger structure of the webtoon ecosystem. Using Giddens’ structuration and Hesmondhalgh’s cultural industry as a theoretical framework, this article identifies webtoon creators, producers, and platform companies as three core agents constituting the production field. From nine in-depth interviews with agents, we aim to capture their vivid experiences based on identity and power relations. Following Giddens’ duality, an interplay of agency and structure is evident. Moreover, as agents interact with one another, they also struggle for power. Because the webtoon ecosystem is greatly influenced by transmedia and transnationalism, we explore how agents are responding to structural changes created by these two waves.


Korean webtoon, transmedia, transnationalism, agents and structure, duality, media ecosystem, cultural industry, spreadable media, webtoon production field

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