Get Closer to the Character in the Story1)
With the emergence of the digital age, the distribution mode for novels has expanded from publications to the Internet. With the spread of Internet portal sites and platforms, novel genres such as fantasy, romance, and fan fiction, which were usually serialized in online communities, have grown into web novels. According to the results of the "2022 Web Novel Industry Status Survey" released by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on September 7, the size of the domestic web novel industry amounts to about one trillion and thirty-nine billion won. It was found to have grown 62 percent compared to 2020. Also, the popularity of web novels has led to an increase in the creation of secondary works based on them. The productions of webtoons, dramas, and films are being activated by utilizing the story of web novels. Recently, the distribution structure of web novels, webtoons, and video content has been shown to lead to each other. A web novel user said, "I watched the web cartoon "What's Wrong with Secretary Kim?" at first and encountered the original web novel, and then watched the drama that had already been aired again. I enjoyed all the associated things: webtoons, web novels, and drama." She said that although it is the same story, the fun of each medium is different depending on the type of media. This shows that web novels and their secondary works form a cycle of consumption. It shows that web novels have grown with this cycle structure.
Secondary works using web novels as inspiration are also expanding into areas other than content. The web novel "Return of the Blossoming Blade," which was very popular with more than 512 million cumulative downloads, was adapted into goods as well as webtoons. A related perfume was modeled after the web novel's symbol, the plum blossom scent, and more than 10,000 units were sold. This was an unusual number for web novel goods, and even reached the highest sales among single intellectual property-based items. This work proves the increased value of web novels and the value of its intellectual property rights is being maximized. These goods from popular web novels are now expanding to pop-up stores. In June, a web novel called "Debut or Die" opened a pop-up store in Seoul, selling 43 different kinds of goods, including perfumes, dolls, and posters, and attracting more than 15,000 people to the event. As such, web novels are meeting the needs of their fanbase through goods and pop-up stores. Fans are also forming a fandom culture by opening birthday cafes for the main characters in web novels or posting subway advertisements. Fan culture has spread to the web novel market, where they also communicate with other fans and share their joy. This process has the effect of generating new web novel users. Accordingly, web novels are expanding around consumers, and the size of the market is continuing to grow.
1) Lim Jong-myung, "The Secret to the Popularity of the Original Web Novel 'Nobble Comics' Is…'the Power of Story'", NEWSIS, February 17, 2020