How many Korean loanwords are there in English? Not many, apart from kimchi and others drawn from Korean cuisine. Webtoon is remarkable in providing an international name for a mixed genre form of entertainment that takes the printed comic strip or animated cartoon onto the internet and the mobile phone. The word was coined in Korean English as wep-t’un, a transliteration of the Korean pronunciation of web and the second syllable of [car]toon, and applied to the web comics that are South Korea’s version of Japanese manga books and Chinese manhua. Although the latter can also be read online, they are still laid out horizontally like comic books, whereas the Korean webtoon is designed in a single vertical strand that works well on the mobile phone. Webtoons make the most of colour rather the traditional black-and-white, and can add music and animations. This explains their popularity within Korea, and increasingly in China, South East Asia and the US. They are marketed by companies such as Line Webtoon, Daum Webtoon, Spottoon, Foxtoon, all making the most of –toon. So the Korean word webtoon has launched a new genre of online entertainment – as well as a new suffix for English at large.
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