The Wonderful World of Manhwa!
If I sit with a group of my friends and mention the word ‘Manga’ many of them become engrossed in conversations regarding their favourite manga’s which always leads to hour long discussions on the topic. However once I mention the word ‘Manhwa’ the room becomes filled with blank expressions.
Manhwa is the word given to comics created in Korea, comics that are more often than not overlooked or left unknown by the general manga loving public. When used in Korea the word ‘Manhwa’ is often used to refer to comics of all origins, however when used in English it solely refers to those created in Korea. Often viewed as cheap imitations of manga; there are clear distinctions that set it apart from being so.
Though the artistic style of Manhwa has a distinct likeliness to manga, Manhwa characters are more realistic bearing proportionate bodies, normal hairstyles and typically it is noticeable easier to distinguish the ethnicity of characters within a Manhwa then it is in a Manga. Manhwa is also read from left to right, instead of the usual right to left reading format of traditional manga. However, it can also be written in the right to left format.
There are many Manhwa titles currently being licensed in the U.S; typically being the more sunjeong or ‘Girls Manhwa’ focused ones. In an unusual move however very few of the published titles are the ones that have a high following in Korea. Though animations based on Manhwa is rare (though there have been a few such as Dooly the little dinosaur); it has more so been adapted into Korean dramas (K-Drama) , examples being the popular dramas Full House (2004) based on a Manhwa of the same name by Woon Soo-yoon and Princess Hours (2006) which is based on Goong by Park So-hee.
Being a massive comic reader (this includes Manga, Manhwa, and American comics) I often find myself picking out favourites and this often happens a lot with when I’m reading Manhwa. I can find myself becoming easily hooked or bored after a couple of pages.
Dear Waltz by Yoon Ji Uh follows the story of high schooler Mi-Hyang who decides to leave her privileged life and move into the home of her Mothers former manager, following her death.
Throughout the story we see how she copes with living in a home with in a home with her mother’s former manager Kang Eun-Soo and his two sons, Sehyu and his younger brother Sekyum who each have unique personalities. Though her father and other family members remain alive we learn quickly that she feels that she would be better off in the home of strangers than her own (readers later discover that there are others reasons she felt uncomfortable in her family, one being a ‘cold blooded’ aunt who hates her).
At times the character of Mi-Hyang often reminds me of Tohru from the popular manga series Fruits Basket. The innocent persona, the trust she puts towards people and the difficult backgrounds which both characters faced (though each has huge differences in their personal situations).
Dear waltz is a Manhwa that I have gone back to a few times and often read over again due to enjoyment of the storyline and the flow at which it goes. There are of course things in the story which I myself as a reader wish I could have changed, but the ending is fitting one for the story and represents Korean feelings on relationships well I believe. *No spoilers at all have been included in this quick review of the Manhwa.
Some publishers of Manhwa include Comics Factory, Yen press, Infinity studios and Tokyopop supplying Manhwa such as Demon diary, Moon boy and witch hunter worldwide. Other titles currently published and scanlated are Dokebi Bride, Goong, Can’t Lose You, The Tarot Café, The Breaker and Tower of God.
Although Manhwa is not as popular a manga, it is beginning to make its mark with the increasing interest in Korea and Korean culture.
Where can I buy Manhwa?
I know that many have problems with finding places to buy Manhwa. I am aware that many can be read online (which I sometimes do, I will not lie) but I also like to support the artists by buying their work.
Below is a list of safe, reliable and often affordable places to buy Manhwa online.
Amazon buy far in my opinion is one of the easiest places to track down and purchase Manhwa. The following reasons express why.
1. The price. Amazon currently has many options of good Manhwa titles, such as my boyfriend is a vampire, available to buy online for as little as £2.00.
2. Free delivery. Many of the Manhwa available on amazon at the moment are eligible for free delivery meaning the stress of having to stay within budget when buying it need not happen.
3. Many of the Manhwa are available to buy for kindle. These, depending on the series, can sometimes be added together when being purchased, getting rid of the strain of tracking down remaining parts.
4. Many of the Manhwa are available to be bought used. I know that many dislike buying used as they want to own a new copy but I often find that buying used feels better. Owning something that you know has been loved and in a sense passed on for others to love fills me with joy!
Though there is a delivery charge when buying used this is normally only a couple of pounds/dollars.
I hope this has been both informative and helpful.