Navigating Webtoons 2 Part Podcast Series

Podcast One

Henry Jenkins Convergence of Culture

Webtoons on Naver

The ease of the app:

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Other blogs

Podcast Two

Translation On Webtoons

LINE Webtoon – Women in Digital Comics at SXSW ’16

Contextual Essay

This digital artifact (DA) is a two-part podcast series on Webtoons. I broke my arm and had time away from classes, thus was given a two-part assignment rather than one group and one individual assignment. This assessment structure challenged me to extend my research and brainstorm ideas that were larger than ‘what is Webtoons’. Chris challenged me to think differently and helped me push my limits beyond what I thought I was capable of. This inspired me to consider potential and future research options.

Part One of the podcast series that I created involved the navigation of Webtoons. I broke it down, so it was really simple for listeners. The idea of this podcast is to provide an instructional platform that listeners could follow along to. I want listeners to be able to follow along while I explain how to navigate and use the Webtoons website. I used a very explanatory approach for this podcast because I wanted listeners to be interested – not overwhelmed with the content. By stepping them through what they needed to know, I feel that I can instill confidence into listeners when they use Webtoons for the first time. When creating the podcast, I was thinking about the audience because I originally had feelings of being overwhelmed when looking at Webtoons for the first time as there are so many genres and series to consider. The purpose is to inform listeners and encourage them to engage in the world of Webtoons.
I approached Podcast One by taking an analytical approach to the autoethnography experience. Leon Anderson (2006, p. 378) recognises that an analytical autoethnography evokes emotion and is a reflexive process. I have been able to reflect on my own experiences of using Webtoons and created a podcast that supports these experiences by helping others.

Part Two of the podcast series was a more indepth investigation of the culture of Webtoons rather than how to use it. By looking at translation, women in Webtoons and censorship, I was able to delve into an unknown world that challenged me to think differently and be considerate and accepting of other cultures. The idea of the podcast was to encourage listeners to become more involved via creation or translation of content noting the simplicity, as well as taking an educational and political approach to understanding the culture of Webtoons and Korea. Personally, I found exploring these topics hard because there is not a lot of research completed on Webtoons as it is a new market and platform within the last 10 years. This is where talking to Chris Moore and Brian Yecies, University lecturers, helped because they were able to guide me in a direction and provide me with some insightful information. The simplicity of brainstorming in multiple consultations with Chris gave me the understanding and passion to research further into these topics.
Creating Podcast Two allowed me to take an alternative approach to an analytical autoethnography. A political approach was taken to create Podcast Two. Denzin (2003, p. 258) recognises that a political autoethnography involves the motion of reflexivity, as well as having a moral and political understanding.

Creation of the podcast was quite easy for me as I have worked for a radio station before, so I am used to pre-recording, although I have never created a podcast before. I had to really practice my articulation and record and re-record sections of the podcast because I would start to slur and stumble after a while. Editing was quite easy on the Movavi program that I downloaded. After listening to other podcasts, I was able to put creative twists into the podcasts to break up the seriousness of the content. With podcast two, I realised that the end result is less conversational than podcast one. I read more from the script that I had pre-written because it was much more content heavy and dense compared to podcast one. In podcast two, I was also able to pose more questions to the audience and learnt that I can question the content without having an answer.

Key epiphanies that I had throughout creating this DA were:

  • Genres are the same as western cultures but are more twisted
  • The Webtoons app was much easier to use
  • Within the translation community, I assumed top translation languages would have been English, but that was not the case.
  • Translation into English was not always exact

These key epiphanies allowed me to have an appreciation for the Webtoons world. I have been able to research and have a more thorough understanding of the Korean culture. Genres in the Asian culture seemed to be more twisted and darker compared to what I was used to. It was shocking, but it was a refreshing change to what I was used to. For example, I normally like Rom-Coms, but in Asian Romance, there is a more twisted, controlling, stalker-ish vibe in a few of the Webtoon series.
Comparing the app to the website, the app was considerably easier to use which was a relief after spending hours playing online and getting lost. With the recommended personalised readings as well as the step by step instructions when you first download it, it contributed to the experience being completely different.
The biggest shock for me when I was researching the world of Webtoons, was that English was not the dominant translated language. I was naïve and thought that English was a language spoken by most people around the world. I discovered that languages such as Portuguese, Indonesian, and Mandarin were the most popular. This made me feel quite silly and the bubble that I was living in popped as I remembered that there are many languages other than English that dominate the world.
I spent some time reading Webtoons series to embed myself into the experience and I noticed that translation had significantly different meanings. For example, calling someone your brother in Asian culture means your boyfriend, whereas here in Australia, brother means sibling or a good friend. This was quite confusing until I got to know the characters more and understood the storyline and translation.

As stated in blog post one, I was drawn to the idea of Webtoons when Brian Yecies, University lecturer, lectured on the Webtoons world and the Korean phenomenon. It took some time for me to get excited about this topic and get started, but after plenty of research and a shuffle around of assignments, I soon found an interest in the topic. Brainstorming and consultations with Chris helped immensely to guide me and keep me motivated.

Overall, the two podcasts allowed me to use a structured approach when talking to the audience, helped me identify key epiphanies and has allowed me to think more broadly about the possibility of further research. Before completing this Digital Asia subject, I had no intentions to visit Asian countries but now that I have a more thorough understanding and respect for the culture, I would be more inclined to travel to Asia.

References

Acuna, K 2016, Millions in Korea are obsessed with these revolutionary comics – now they’re going global, Business Insider, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-webtoons-2016-2?r=US&IR=T

https://www.quora.com/How-are-South-Korean-webtoons-any-different-from-the-usual-webcomics>.

Anderson, L 2006, Analytical Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, pp. 373 – 395.

Crowd Sourcing Week, 2018, What is Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Sourcing Week, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://crowdsourcingweek.com/what-is-crowdsourcing/>.

Denzin, K 2003, Performing [Auto]Ethnography Politically, The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Culture Studies, vol. 25, pp. 257 – 278.

Gagging on Sexism, 2014, Captured by Cheese in the Trap, Gagging on Sexism, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://gaggingonsexism.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/captured-by-cheese-in-the-trap/>.

Jenkins, H 2006, Welcome to Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins, last viewed 01 October 2018, <http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html>.

Johnson, R 2016, 42% Of LINE Webtoon’s Comic Creators Are Female – And Half Are Read By Women, Bleeding Cool, last view 12 October 2018, <https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/02/29/42-of-line-webtoons-comic-creators-are-female-and-half-are-read-by-women/>.

Krush, A 2018, Google vs. Naver: Why can’t Google Dominate Search in Korea?, Link-Assistant.com, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.link-assistant.com/blog/google-vs-naver-why-cant-google-dominate-search-in-korea/>.

Naver, 2018, Naver Search Engine, Naver, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.naver.com/>.

LINE Webtoons, 2014, LINE Webtoon Launches Challenge League, a New Discovery Feature for Webcomic Creators and Aspiring Artists, Cision, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/line-webtoon-launches-challenge-league-a-new-discovery-feature-for-webcomic-creators-and-aspiring-artists-283316621.html>.

LINE Webtoons, 2016, LINE Webtoon – Women in Digital Comics at SXSW ’16, last viewed 18 October 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7agHWASUzNw>.

Webtoons, 2017, Webtoon’s New Patreon pledge program, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/notice/detail?noticeNo=576>.

Webtoons, 2018, Webtoons: Become a Contributor, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://translate.webtoons.com/guide>.

Webtoons, 2018, Webtoon’s Pledge to Discover x Patreon Creators for January, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/notice/detail?noticeNo=671&page=2>.

Wikipedia, 2018, Gender and Webcomics, Wikipedia, last view 12 October 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_and_webcomics>.

Word Finder, 2018, ‘Webtoon’, Word Finder.com, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://findwords.info/term/webtoon>.

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The methodology of my Webtoons Discovery

Autoethnography: The approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural (ethno) (Ellis, 2011). We have all become quite familiar with the term autoethnography, but now its time to break it down and understand the methodology to the experience. There are multiple authors that take different approaches to the process of creating an autoethnography. For example; Ellis (2011), discusses that his methodology is based on experiences, epiphanies and sharing the analysed lived experiences that one undergoes. Denzen (2003), on the other hand, takes a more political approach to autoethnographies recognising that there is ‘elements of freedom, critical imagination and reflexivity’. Anderson (2006), an analytical autoethnographer states that to write successful autoethnographies you must ‘engage in reflexive social analysis and self-analysis and that it requires the researcher to be visible, active and reflexively engaged in the experience’.

Each author’s methods are different and are in no way wrong. It depends on how you want to approach creating your autoethnography. If you want to critically analyse your situation then Anderson’s methodology would be for you, but if you want to take a more creative approach to your experience then Ellis’ methodology is useful. Politically analysing situations and understanding why things are shaped the way they are in a culture means that Denzen’s approach to autoethnographies would be appropriate.

Since I recently broke my arm and had to have a few weeks off from classes, I am now completing a two-part autoethnography instead of one group and one individual assignment. I will be exploring the world of Webtoons more in-depth than originally planned and breaking down the structure through Ellis’ methodology concept and looking into further research through Denzen and Anderson’s methodologies (still yet to be decided as to which research avenue I will be taking).

Screenshot (123).png

To understand Webtoons, I will be creating a two-part podcast series. The first podcast will delve deep into the unknown world of Webtoons. I will break down Webtoons bit by bit so those who are new to Webtoons can fully immerse themselves without becoming overwhelmed with the amount of content that is available. The first podcast will give you all the tips and tricks to navigate through the Webtoons rabbit hole that I was once lost in. The second podcast will explore a more in-depth concept of Webtoons and how the content in the industry has become what it is today – this will take a more political and analytical approach to understand Webtoons.

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Topics that are of interest already involve; South Korean culture and laws, censorship, the sexuality and representation of women in webtoons and growing trends of webtoons and crowdsourcing translation.

Research shows that women in South Korean are meant to be submissive and to maintain harmony (K4E Editor, 2015), but throughout reading different episodes of Webtoons, women are often represented as the ones with power and are seen as the heroes. Song (2016), says that media across the world is “frozen in a time-warp of obsolete and damaging representations” (p. 9). Women have also been heavily sexualised in some Webtoon series and while it is not accepted in South Korea on a national level, especially among K-Pop bands, sexualisation is accepted on an international level. This means that the Webtoons that I view here, in Australia, in my bedroom, on my laptop, may not be the same as those who live in South Korea.

There are also growing trends in the popularity of Webtoon series across the world, not just in South Korea. I briefly touched on this in my last post and will be discussing this topic further with Brian Yecies, a University of Wollongong lecturer. In my discussion, I hope will uncover more on the growing trends of Webtoons across the world and the concept of crowdsourcing translation.

References

Anderson, L 2006, Analytical Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, vol. 35, pp. 373 – 392.

Denzen, N.K 2003, Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically, The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, vol. 25, pp. 257–278.

Ellis, C Adams, T.E Bochner, A.P, 2011, Autoethnography: an Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Reseach, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1-12.

K4E Editor, 2015, Traditional Role for Women, Korean 4 Expats, last viewed 4 October 2018, <https://www.korea4expats.com/article-traditional-role-of-women-korea.html>.

Song, B 2016, Seeing is Believing: Content Analysis of Sexual Content in Korean Music Videos, Southern Utah University, pp. 1-60.

The new era: Webtoons

Independent Autoethnographies is something that I have experienced in another class – Communication across Cultures (ELL230). Although I have completed an autoethnography before, the Digital Asia approach seems much different as I have learned that there are analytical and creative approaches to writing an autoethnography. Previously, I have written an analytical autoethnography which relied heavily on other research and the reflection of my experiences in a standard essay format. With different ways to approach the Digital Asia autoethnography, I will be able to explore more options and platforms to share my research and experiences.

Sitting in my Global Media Interventions class, Monday morning of week 6 and our lecture is on Webtoons, transformation into the global space and the new era of platformisation. Webtoons history was introduced and I learnt that they were created in South Korea in the 2000’s where comics became digital and online (Yecies, B 2018). It’s the practice of using a mobile scrolling device with the flow of imagery to make a story. The lecturer Brian Yecies (2018), has completed studies on the popularity of Webtoons across countries. Statistics show that Webtoons has a large fan base in Japan and China and it is increasingly growing in Indonesia, Malaysia and even in the United States (Yecies, B 2018).

In my own research time, I googled “Webtoons” and I clicked on the first link. It was in another language and before clicking translate, I had a quick look around to see what I could discover without the English language at the forefront. I didn’t get very far until I was rummaging around in a rabbit hole with like Alice in Wonderland. I translated the page and found that what I was looking at was a gold mine for comic lovers – so many genres, types, and artists! With multiple genres in the Webtoons comic series, it made choosing a comic series hard. There are so many different types of comics within each genre all with a large number of likes and views making my decision difficult. Normally, I am a sucker for romance, action and drama but considering autoethnographies are about experiencing “new and abundant opportunities” (Ellis, C et al. 2011) exploring a new genre was on the cards. I decided to have a quick browse through the Fantasy genre to see what I could find.

With my brief research and viewing of Webtoons and the Fantasy genre, I can see that translation is not always correct which highlights the significance of the imagery used. This was a major epiphany as translations and meaning of words may have a different significance in different cultures and you can often get lost in translation without the images. Thus, making sure that I fully immerse myself into the Webtoons culture to have a better understanding of the comics that are produced. I will have to make sure that I read the text bubbles as well as taking in the imagery of the comics as images are a crucial part of Webtoons and comics. Translation can be defined as “a message that is transferred from one language to another and the tropes of border and bridge work powerfully” (Gambier, Y 2016). Translators for Webtoons, do not need a degree in translation nor do they get paid for their efforts. They are all volunteer which is a crowdsourcing initiative to create a more socially inclusive platform for all.

This initial experience of exploring the Webtoons online community has gotten me excited to explore Webtoons and for further research that I will be conducting throughout the process of this autoethnography.

 

References:

Gambier, Y 2016, Rapid and Radical Changes in Translation and Translation Studies, International Journal of Communication, vol. 10, pp. 887 – 906.

Jenkins, H 2008, Convergent Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York University Press, Chapter 3: Searching for the Origami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling, pp. 93 – 130.

Johnston, R 2016, 42% of LINE Webtoon Comics Creators are female and half are read by women, Bleeding Cool, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/02/29/42-of-line-webtoons-comic-creators-are-female-and-half-are-read-by-women/>.

Shin, M 2013, How Webtoons are Democratizing the Korean Contents Industry, Atelier, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://atelier.bnpparibas/en/prospective/article/webtoons-democratizing-korean-contents-industry>.

Sui, 2014, Tower of God: Season 2, Ep. 108, Webtoons, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/fantasy/tower-of-god/season-2-ep-108/viewer?title_no=95&episode_no=188>.

Wass, J 2009, Manga Guide to Statistics: Statistics with heart-pounding excitement (well maybe), R&D Mag, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.rdmag.com/article/2009/05/manga-guide-statistics-statistics-heart-pounding-excitement-well-maybe>.

Yecies, B 2018, Transcreation Intermediaries in South Korea’s Digital Webtoon Platform Ecosystem, BCM322 Global Media Interventions, University of Wollongong.