Rising Stars: The Southeast Asian Webtoon Market

According to Market Watch (2022), the webtoon market size (2022 CAGR of 30.99%) is projected to reach USD 26,213.59 million by 2028. This puts an expectation that the webtoon industry will grow more significantly than it is now. One of the most competitive is the Southeast Asian webtoon market. Big companies such as Naver, Kakao, and Lezhin Entertainment are always looking for ways to expand their influence in ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

 The biggest consumer of webtoons in Southeast Asia is Indonesia, with roughly 12 million users per month for Naver webtoons alone. This is an astonishing number of users consuming translated webtoons every month. According to research conducted in Indonesia, 5 out of 10 people enjoy reading webtoons in their native language rather than a foreign one. In addition, webtoons must cater to the multilingual users if they don’t want to risk losing half of the users they gain monthly. 

What languages should webtoons be translated into?

Target Languages for Webtoon Translation

There is no universal language. The world holds diversity and disparities. Thus, it should also reflect every piece of literature out there. Webtoons are no exception. With millions of users reading daily, it is not a debate whether to translate a webtoon into multiple languages. It’s just a matter of what target language is appropriate for webtoon translation.

Targeting the native languages of the biggest webtoon markets will push the industry forward, creating a reality out of the predictions and maybe even surpassing it. Here are the target languages for webtoon translation for maximum reach.

Japanese

Japan is the country with the biggest webtoon export from South Korea. In the year 2021, it garnered 31.8% of the overall market. With the country’s manga industry overtaking the world, webtoon easily slid into the entertainment industry. The mobile-friendly format that webtoons have makes it easier for users to access and read content on the go. Because of this, Korean to Japanese webtoon translation will ensure that the webtoon project will cover the Japanese market and reach 31.8% of the users.

Chinese

China, ranking second as the biggest webtoon export, boasts 23.4% of the overall market. Consumers will always prefer to read in their language to maximize entertainment value. Big companies realized the importance of branching out to different languages once they saw growth opportunities. China has always been part of the big markets of gaming, entertainment, and artificial intelligence. Thus, it is crucial to consider the Korean to Chinese webtoon translation in a webtoon project.

English

English is spoken by many people, not just as a native language but as their 2nd or 3rd foreign language. In 2021, roughly 13% of the world’s population speaks English. Of that 13%, only 5% are native English speakers. This shows that Korean to English webtoon translation will reach millions of readers in different parts of the world. In addition, this will not only target English native-speaking countries such as North America or Australia but also countries with a high percentage of English speakers, such as the Philippines.

Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia holds the record for the biggest webtoon market in Southeast Asia. As a result, webtoon companies have already slowly expanded their business in Indonesia because of how in-demand webtoon is. However, most users still prefer to read in their native language. Thus to target, the enormous market, Korean to Indonesian webtoon translation must be utilized.

Malay

Malaysia has a significant webtoon market of a whopping 4.8 percent. Malaysia has a growing comic scene with local comic artists emerging in the market. This demand for local and international comics paved the way for increased webtoon demand. Targeting Korean to Malay webtoon translation to encourage more readers will be beneficial in the constant incline of the market.

Thai

Thailand is the hot pot of entertainment. As a result, many webtoon companies have built a brand in Thailand to boost translation and localization efforts in targeting Southeast Asian markets. Since Thailand is one of the biggest markets in Southeast Asia with a 13% webtoon export rate, it is guaranteed that dipping into the Thai market will increase the brand value in Southeast Asia. Korean to Thai webtoon translation is vital to achieving this goal.

Webtoon Translation and Localization is a Must for Global Expansion

In a world where connectivity is important, proper webtoon translation and localization are very crucial in global expansion. Partnering with a translation company to handle your translation needs will make you feel confident and secure about the products you’ll produce. Quality, fast, and accurate translations must be the priority in looking for a translation partner. 

Long since its establishment ten years ago, CREATIVE CONNECTIONS & COMMONS INC. has produced high-quality, fast, and accurate translation and localization work for over 30 languages worldwide. With a team of expert linguists and native speakers, rest assured that your project will receive the utmost attention and care.

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