Most Popular Anime In Korea 

    Did Korea just pull a sneaky on Japan in the anime industry!?

    One of the best things I’ve discovered this year is the existence of anime outside of Japan. And yes, we can go into the semantics of what does constitute anime and what doesn’t but let’s just go by the age-old adage of ‘if it looks like anime, it’s anime’. And, listen, the other countries aren’t exactly a shabby job here. I am a devoted Heaven Official Blessings worshipper and China hit it out of the park with Link Click. But Korea isn’t exactly lacking behind with its ever popular anime shows.

    The most popular anime of this year to come out of Korea was the long-awaited adaptation of Tower Of God. The popular webtoon was already doing massive numbers online, so it’s no wonder it got picked up for an animated feature. I mean, anime was already super big there, with shows like Pokémon and Sailor Moon. And with the Line WebToon boom, it was only a matter of time before Korea took its first foray into the anime scene. However, they’ve been making great anime for a while now, such as with popular series Closers: Side Blacklamb.

    Turns out, K-pop and cute Korean drama aren’t the only things that their media industry has to offer. Korean anime, known as Anei, has some amazing gems much like with the Chinese Donghua.  A lot of it has to do with how much content both countries have to adapt into animated projects. China is seeing mainstream success internationally, thanks to works such as Wuxia novels. However, the breakout hits have been Danmei, such as those by authors MXTX and Meatbun.

    Similarly, Korea’s excessive library of digital manhwa, or webtoons, has given rise to multiple live-action adaptations. So, of course, we were going to get some anime out of it too. But is this a sign that anime is becoming more globalized? Or is it blurring the lines between animation in general? After all, there are plenty of anime that are made in-house VS being outsourced to Japan. So, how are Korea and its popular anime faring in the international community? Let’s discuss!

    The Weeb Fever In K-Town:

    Solo Leveling Korea

    As far as I can tell, geekdom has always been a part of Korean’s pop culture. Being closer to Japan, they shared a lot of aesthetics and media between the two and the anime industry peaked there, alongside the rest of the world.

    However, it was in the 2010s where Korea innovated the idea of the digital comic. Webtoons were tailor made for the smartphone audience, with a vertical layout that was much easier to scroll through than Japanese manga scans. And they quickly grew in popularity, especially for fans of Shojou or the romance genre.

    I’ve got to be honest here, I am heavily biased towards webtoons because I happen to be a huge sap. KI already loved K-dramas for the same reason, and webtoons were just another medium for me to get my fix. With the emergence of apps such Naver, Lenzhin and Tapas, manga style webcomics have become all the rage.

    However, the progenitor of it all was anime from Japan, that helped kickstart the entire craze in the first place. But ever since then, Korea has become a mainstay on the weeb global stage.

    Most Popular Anime In Korea

    Because these webtoons were so promising, Japan saw a lot of potential. This is when we started getting more adaptations that were outside of Japan’s own domestic market. I’m talking light novels from China and, yes, webtoons from Korea.

    For example, Noblesse was super popular manhwa/webtoon that was first made into an aeni and then caught the eye of Production I.G. in Japan. You might know them as the same animation house that does a small little anime called Haikyuu! Okay, I kid but it was amazing that Noblesse got the chance for a proper anime release through such a huge production company.

    And don’t even get me started on their thrillers. Korean anime movies are seriously underrated, with The Fake being one of the most harrowing storylines I’ve ever seen. Think something out of a Junji Ito special, but without a supernatural and fairly realistic plot about a fake religion that exploits a tiny village.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tower Of God, but likewise there are other fantasy-Isekai style anime that are plenty popular in Korea such as The God Of Highschool and Solo Levelling that are dominating the scene in a huge way.

    Safe to say, Korea has made a space for itself in the anime community!


    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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