Kakao Entertainment Acquires Web Novel Services Company Wuxiaworld to Attract North American Readers

[Courtesy of Kakao Entertainment]

SEOUL – In a strategy to expand its global presence based on rapid growth in selected Asian countries such as Japan and Thailand, Kakao Entertainment, a content and entertainment subsidiary of South Korean web services company Kakao, acquired Wuxiaworld, a US-based Asian fantasy web novel platform company, which maintains a strong base of male fantasy readers, to attract North American readers.

Wuxiaworld, founded in 2014 by former US diplomat Lai Jingping, who bears his pen name Ren Woxing, was acquired through Radish Media, a US-based web novel platform that was absorbed by Kakao Entertainment in May 2021 for $ 440 million. of dollars. There would be no change in its current management, Wuxiaworld said, adding that Kakao Entertainment and Radis have guaranteed a massive marketing budget to bolster the viability and long-term health of Wuxiaworld.

“While we will rapidly accelerate the production of Korean web novels, we will also expand translations of Chinese web novels,” Lai said in a statement posted on the company’s website. He said the company hopes to expand its business to Japanese web novels and light novels by the third quarter of 2022, citing Kakao Entertainment’s strong presence in Japan.

Lai ruled out any significant changes to the business model, saying Wuxiaworld focuses on male fantasy readers, while Radish has focused on female romance readers, which means there is no competition issue. internal crossover or cannibalization of the user base.

The acquisition reflects Kakao Entertainment’s aggressive decision to become a global intellectual property company leveraging the content power of Radis and Wuxiaworld.

Government data has shown that the web novel market in South Korea has grown 50-fold, from around 10 billion won ($ 8.4 million) in 2013 to around 500 billion won in 2019. L One of the world’s most popular web novel platforms is Wattpad, a Canada-based site with over 665 million story downloads. The platform, where writers can post user-generated stories, has over 90 million users. In January 2021, South Korea’s leading web portal services operator, Naver, acquired Wattpad.

In South Korea, various web novels have been recreated into webtoons, also known as digital comics. Text description of web novels can be transferred to the webtoon character lines. According to the National Computer Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), the global online cartoon market is expected to reach $ 1.3 billion in 2022.

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Veronica J. Snell