Webtoons are very popular among the school-going crowd in South Korea. Known as ‘manhwa’, webtoons are basically the South Korean version of comic books. More often than not, they are adapted as Korean dramas. Manhwas are not just for entertainment purposes though they were first created with that idea. They often are aimed at fuelling the fantasies that adolescent children have about the mysteries of this world. These manhwas also carry several values and teachings for the kids. Sometimes, they also call out malpractices in society that cannot be addressed easily. This is a great way of teaching the younger generation about the kind of people they should aspire o be.
Manhwas are a great way for foreigners to learn about the culture of South Korea. While their comic or webtoon version came into being in the early 2000s, manhwas had already created a dedicated market of their own in East Asia and the United States. Some of the most popular websites to read Manhwas today are Daum, Naver and Kakao. In our article, we have listed out the Top 25 Most Popular Korean Webtoon that you must read. The list is in no particular order as each webtoon falls under different genres and comes with interesting stories. Read on to find out more!
1. Solo Leveling
The story in Solo Leveling revolves around the life of Sung Jin-woo. All of a sudden, ‘gates’, or portals as they should more aptly be called, have begun appearing all over South Korea. These gates connect the world of monsters to that of human beings. A certain category of humans has started developing superpowers to protect the entire race from being swept off from Earth. Our main protagonist happens to be the weakest link among these superhumans – called hunters. One day, Jin-woo and some other hunters enter a dangerous dungeon. Though Jin-woo dies inside it, it manages to complete all the challenges he was supposed to in order to get out alive. Jin-woo then wakes up in a hospital bed. He realises that certain things have changed about him as a hunter. He can somehow see an interface in front of his eyes that show him statistics of the game they are playing with the monster world. Jin-woo must use this power to discover hidden secrets of the monster world and become the most powerful hunter of all time.
In the dark fantasy genre, Noblesse is about a nobleman wh0 has been asleep for more than 800 years. He is blissfully unaware of how much the world has changed and how mankind has made massive advancements in science and technology. Noblesse starts with a nobleman called Rai waking up in an abandoned building in modern-day South Korea. Once he leaves this building, he begins exploring the cosmopolitan South Korean capital of Seoul. He manages to find and reunite with his old servant Frankenstein. Together with Frankenstein, Rai starts to settle into modern life in the present times. When he enrols himself in high school, he befriends Shin-Woo, Ikhan and Yuna. Together with his friends, Rai starts his dangerous adventures against a secret organisation that helps him uncover several hidden truths of his past.
3. The Sound Of Your Heart
The Sound of Your Heart was South Korea’s longest-running webtoon that went on for a record 14 years. It is actually a webtoon written in the comedy genre. The Sound of Your Heart does not have any definite storyline. Instead, it follows the life of a man named Jo Seok, his girlfriend Ae-Bong, their family and friends as they find themselves in the strangest of situations every day. Each scenario is so funny that it is bound to leave the reader gasping for breath. The popular webtoon was later made into a South Korean drama that you can watch if you are too lazy to read over 1000 episodes.
Another very popular webtoon, Kubera has been written in the fantasy genre. Kubera follows the life of a girl who goes by the same name – Kubera, a small-town girl. One day, she finds out that a demi-god or a powerful Sura has killed everyone in her small town. According to the theory in the story, a Sura is an immortal being that can take both human and animal-like forms as it wills. Kubera meets a magician called Asha and embarks upon an adventurous journey to get all the people that matter the most to her back in her life.
5. Cheese In The Trap
Cheese In The Trap is undoubtedly one of the most popular webtoons of all time. It was adapted both as a K-Drama and a movie later. A must-read for all romance lovers, Cheese In The Trap follows the life of Seol Hong. Seol is a hard-working young student. She took a long break from school and has finally returned to her academic career. Meanwhile, her senior in school, Jung Yu is known as the perfect boy by everyone. His ‘perfect’ reputation precedes his name. Seol feels her life has taken a negative turn when she inevitably gets involved with Jung Yu. The rest of the storyline follows the development in their relationship dynamics and how it changes their lives forever.
Bastard is a webtoon where the story is based on the plight of a little boy – Seon Jin. Seon Jin is bullied by his fellow classmates often in school due to his weak demeanour and quiet nature. If he didn’t already have enough problems, Seon Jin’s father is a serial killer. He must unwillingly assist his father and be a faithful accomplice in all his dirty work. Seon Jin’s father is a high standing member of Korea’s society. However, nobody knows about the dangerous monster he really is underneath all the sweet talk. Seon Jin is terrified of being at home with his father. Suddenly, Seon Jin’s father starts taking interest in a new transfer student in his school – Yoon Kyun. It is now that Seon Jin must choose between saving the girl from his father’s monstrous instincts and being a ‘bastard’ to his father by betraying him.
7. The Breaker
The Breaker is yet another high school story in the action and martial arts genre. It follows the life of a young boy called Shioon who is frequently beaten up and bullied by his classmates. His new English teacher witnesses one such incidence where he is being beaten up. However, Mr. Chun Woo offers him no help. Instead, Shioon is reprimanded by his teacher for not standing up for himself and holding his ground. Soon, Shioon finds out that Chun Woo is not just an ordinary English teacher but a properly trained martial arts fighter. Shioon is determined to train under him. Chun Woo asks Shioon to prove his commitment to the art form by jumping off a bridge. The story then follows Shioon’s story as he discovers the hidden treasures of learning ‘murin’. The Breaker is followed by a second part titled ‘The Breaker: New Waves’.
With about a total of 140 episodes, Untouchable is another webtoon in the romance genre in our list. It has a very high rating of around 9.68 out of a total of 10 online. In Untouchable, Sia Lee is another quintessential vampire who touches humans to draw energy from them. The difference between her and other vampires is that she does not suck blood. The story takes a funny turn when Sia falls in love with her neighbour Jiho who has germaphobia and won’t let anyone touch him. Read the webtoon to find out what becomes of their relationship.
9. Tower Of God
The Tower of God is visited by people who wish for something very ardently in their lives. With a total of 135 floors, each floor comes with several tests that a person must pass in order to fulfil their desires. Each floor is more difficult than the one underneath it. People make sincere efforts to climb the entire tower and become a Ranker – a person with realised dreams. Baam is a boy who enters the Tower of God and starts to face the challenges every floor puts out, head-on. However, one interesting fact about Baam is that he does not have any desires of his own. Baam just wants to meet his friend Rachel and catch up with her since she started this journey before he did. Read the webtoon to find out if Baam does end up meeting Rachel.
10. Girls Of The Wild’s
Girls of the Wild’s is a mixture of every popular genre of webtoons out there. It covers all grounds starting from action and martial arts to romance and high school drama. Wild’s High School was previously an all-girls school with a focus on mixed martial arts. However, very recently it has become a co-educational school that also started accepting boys. The story revolves around a freshman in Wild’s High – Song Jae Gu, whose ideas of women are not exactly ideal. His ideas crop up from his abandonment trauma in life, left by his mother. Since their mother left them, Jae Gu has also had to take care of his younger siblings. The school holds an annual championship league called ‘Wild’s League’ where the girls fight with each other brutally to become the champion. The story in this webtoon starts when Jae Gu spills coffee on the defending champion – Queen. What makes Girls of the Wild’s a very popular webtoon is the strong female leads here – a concept yet to become a trend in South Korea.
11. About Death
About Death is a webtoon with about 22 episodes. These episodes are all available in English if you’re an enthusiast of the genre with limited Hangul skills. About Death, just like the name suggests, treats life as borrowed time – a break between birth and death. The webtoon tries to explore death and understand it by using the lives of the characters as the means to do so. A god-like powerful figure in the webtoon has the miraculous abilities to talk to people who are in the brim of crossing between the world of the living to that of the dead. About Death explores everyday issues that we deal with in the monotony of daily life – suicide, relationships, friendships, love, loss and regrets. This is certainly one of those webtoons on our list that you relate to the most.
12. Oh! Holy
Another romance webtoon with massive ratings, Oh! Holy follows the lives of two childhood friends who had lost touch with each other. But don’t be mistaken, this webtoon is indeed another high school romance as the characters reconcile in the final years of their school life. Holy and Jaimee have personalities that make them polar opposites of each other. Yet there is something in their friendship that helps them rekindle their paused relationship that will hopefully bloom into romance. While Holy is a loner, Jaimee is a very popular student in school. Meanwhile, Holy has the uncanny ability to speak to ghosts. The rest of the storyline follows the development in Holy’s and Jaimee’s relationship along with all their differences that they gracefully embrace.
Dice is a webtoon in the fantasy genre with very high ratings. It is every video game player’s dream. According to the theory in Dice, players can restart their lives and reverse all their experiences by playing a game. In this case, the online game we are referring to is a game of dice. Tae Bin is an exchange student in the same school that Dong Tae goes to. While Dong Tae’s life is made miserable by his fellow classmates who constantly bully him, Tae Bin is very popular among his peers. Coincidentally, Tae Bin and Dong Tae sit right next to each other in class. One day Tae Bin suggest that he and Dong Tae play the rumoured game of dice. The storyline then follows how drastically their lives change after they pick up the magical game.
14. The Gamer
The Gamer is a webtoon in a rare juncture of the science fiction and comedy genres along with several elements of action and adventure too. Again, based on the fantasy of living your life depending on your level in a certain game that everyone is playing, the webtoon follows the life of Han Jee Han. Han Jee Han wakes up one day to realise that he has the powers of an RPG player. However, it is completely out of the blue! He then sets on a journey to find out how he got these powers and then try to level up in the game in the most efficient manner.
15. Days Of Hana
While we always read stories about vampires falling in love with humans, Days of Hana is in the same fantasy genre, yet it is very different. In this webtoon created by artist Seokwoo, we see a werewolf, most often considered to be a vampire’s arch-enemy fall in love with a human. The theory of this webtoon considers a world where werewolves consider themselves loyal servants to their human masters. The werewolf here is Haru while the girl is called Hana. The name of the webtoon interestingly plays with their names. The Korean word for day is ‘haru’ as well. The story follows the forbidden love story that blooms between Haru and Hana.
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Lookism is another very popular webtoon about a boy called Daniel (Park Hyun Suk) who has the power to switch between his two bodies. Both his bodies put him through very opposite experiences in life. While on one hand he is bullied by his fellow classmates, on the other he is a handsome young man who everyone loves. This webtoon brings out the hard reality of our society where people receive completely different treatment from others based on physical appearance. During the day, Daniel is a handsome boy while at night, he comes back to his reality. The story follows Daniel’s life as he becomes a celebrity with his day-face and gets into the entertainment industry but late at night when the world sleeps, Daniel returns to his original body.
17. Itaewon Class
Park Sae-royi is a young high school kid who dreams of getting into the police academy. His hardworking father is a single parent who tries his best to give his son a comfortable life. Over a small feud, Sae-royi’s father is murdered by a dangerous businessman of high social standing. Sae-royi goes against him and ends up in prison. After serving his term, Sae-royi comes back to Seoul and tries to set up a small restaurant in the Itaewon neighbourhood to make his father proud. Itaewon is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Seoul with all the biggest clubs and restaurants. As he embarks upon this journey, Park Sae-royi also starts to plan out his revenge against the powerful chaebol heir who murdered his father. Itaewon Class has been adapted into a K-Drama of the same name starring Park Seo-joon in the lead.
18. Ringing If You Like
Ringing If You Like is another very popular webtoon with a K-Drama screen adaptation called ‘Love Alarm’. Ringing if You Like is set in a futuristic world where apps have the power of determining whether someone within a 10-metre radius loves you. However, what happens when you ring someone’s alarm even if they do not reciprocate your feels. The story in this popular webtoon follows the life of Hwang Sun-Oh, Kim JoJo and Lee Hye-Yeong who form a complicated love story when both friends fall in love with the same girl. Read Ringing If You Like to find out who JoJo ultimately ends up with.
19. True Beauty
True Beauty is a rare webtoon that highlights a negative aspect of South Korea’s mainstream society if you’re willing to look at it like that. True Beauty is about a young girl who watches make-up videos online and starts applying the techniques to herself. As soon as she starts using make-up in everyday life, her popularity in school skyrockets and she soon becomes the most popular girl with the prettiest face. But the question is how long can she keep her true self hidden behind layers of make-up? And how will her status change once people find out about her? The drama talks about the harsh reality of growing up in a society that puts beauty on the highest pedestal – over everything else. This webtoon has also been adapted to a K-Drama of the same name.
20. Navillera: Like A Butterfly
Navillera has recently been adapted to a Netflix Original Series starring actor Song Kang. ‘Like a Butterfly’ is a webtoon about the very real fear that people have of growing old and regret not doing something in their life. Dukchul Shim is a 70-year old man who has always wanted to dance. What will surprise you, even more, is that he wants to learn ballet. However, no matter how hard he tries, his body seems to give up on him every day. He wishes he started at least 10 years earlier when his body was more capable than it is today. In his journey to become a dancer, Dukchul meets Chae-rok who is a 23-year old ballerino with dreams and ambitions of his own. While Dulchul finds himself envying Chae-rok’s youth at times, with his help, he does everything in his power to fulfil his lifelong dream of performing on stage once. Read Navillera to learn life-long lessons of believing oneself enough to fight all hardships to realise your long lost dreams.
21. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
Another rare webtoon that focuses on South Korea’s obsession with beauty, My ID is Gangnam Beauty has also been adapted into a K-Drama. Kang Mirae is a young college student who recently underwent cosmetic surgery to get rid of her ‘ugly’ features. She was bullied as a child for not being pretty. However, even though she is pretty now with plastic surgery, college is different. Here she is often ridiculed for being artificial and not being able to show her true self. While Mirae is caught in a blossoming romance and dealing with the difficulties that come in her life as she starts college, read this webtoon to find out more about what fate awaits Mirae.
22. Hell Is Other People
Hell Is Other People is a webtoon in the horror and thriller genres with a total of 89 chapters. Yoon Jong-woo is a young aspiring writer who moves to Seoul from the countryside in search of better opportunities. He lands an internship in a local start-up. However, the story in this webtoon follows Jong-woo’s life as a struggling youngster trying to make it big in a city like Seoul. He lives in a creepy apartment with strange neighbours, some of who also happen to be serial killers. Yoon Jong Woo must try to break free of this stagnation in his life if he wants to realise his dreams. He also has to listen to criticism from a society constantly telling him that is good for nothing and that his existence is useless. Read this webtoon to find out whether Jong Woo is successful in breaking free from these shackles and reaching his goals. Hell Is Other People has also been adapted into a drama titled Strangers from Hell which is available on Netflix.
23. July Found By Chance
July Found By Chance is one of the most beautifully written webtoons in our list where the character goes into a journey of self-awareness. It follows the life of a girl called Eun Danoh who comes from a wealthy family and had everything one could wish for in life. However, one thing Danoh has that nobody would want is a fatal heart condition which could mean she may die before she even celebrates her 18th birthday. One day, Danoh realises that she has some long gaps in her memory where she cannot recall what happened to her. This leads Danoh to the strange discovery that she is actually a character in a Korean webtoon with a pre-determined fate. Everything that happens to Danoh has already been written by the creator of the webtoon. What breaks her heart further is when she realises that she is just a supporting character and the story is not even about her. However, Danoh is determined to not let the plot dictate her life, instead, he embarks upon a journey to find out her true self.
24. Twin Tops Bar
Twin Top Bar is yet another interesting webtoon that follows the story of a ‘mystic pop up’ shop in Seoul. The words within the quote are the name of the K-Drama that this webtoon has been adapted into. It basically does not really have a proper storyline but is rather a collection of different stories and experiences that take place in a pop-up stall that appears in the streets of Seoul mysteriously every midnight. Mainly what happens is a man has the ability to touch people and solve all their problems as they pour their hearts out to him.
25. King’s Maker
Last but not least on our list is King’s Maker. With a total of about 38 episodes, King’s Maker, as the name suggests is about teaching a young price the duties of a king. Wolfgang Goldenleonard returns to palace life after spending a good part of his life in hiding. He not only rejects the royal life that comes with his title but also the responsibilities that he must shoulder. Shin Soohyuk happens to be a catamite of the king. He is loyal and dutiful but has a certain mysterious aura to him. As Wolfgang starts settling into palace life, he begins opening up to Soohyun. This is when Soohyun realises that the prince has a very stubborn and raw side of him. Soohyun must decide how to harness the prince’s attitude to stir up a rebellion in the palace.
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