Feb 01, 2023

Kakao Webtoon brings original Thai stories to life: part 1

Regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s primary cultural hubs, Thailand is known for its original stories that captivate audiences near and far in films like “Bad Genius” and TV dramas like “Love Destiny” and “2gether.” With the country’s deep-seated appreciation for compelling stories combined with its high mobile penetration, webtoons quickly rose as a novel content category in recent years.

Kakao Webtoon has been leading the webtoon trend in Thailand with its curation of proven and popular webtoons from Korea. But Kakao Webtoon doesn’t want to stop there. The platform is now rejuvenating Thailand’s content industry again by producing well-known Thai stories into equally successful webtoons. This post details how Kakao Webtoon’s such efforts are allowing original Thai stories to find a new voice and wider audiences.

Kakao Webtoon Thailand’s first local webtoon project begins with “Love Destiny,” a story which rocketed to fame when it was released as a TV drama in 2018. Originally a hugely popular novel by Bangkok-based novelist Janyavee Sompreeda, also known by the pen name Rompaeng, “Love Destiny” provided the perfect canvas for Kakao Webtoon Thailand’s first foray into producing local titles.

The results were explosive. The webtoon came out early last year, backed by a soundtrack performed by Thai artist Nan Sathida Prompiriya. The song became so popular it was quickly released on a variety of global music streaming platforms. Another testament to the webtoon’s popularity was the response on social media. The TikTok hashtag challenge using Love Destiny webtoon characters reached more than 38 million unique users — virtually the entire target audience for webtoons in Thailand.

Another consecutive local hit has been “One Day, My Favorite K-Pop Idol Group Leader Disappeared!” released last September. This webtoon is a cross-cultural collaboration between a Korean writer and a Thai artist. It centers on the real-life stories of the incredible Thai veterans who fought during the Korean War in the 1950s. The story unfolds from the unique perspective of the female lead character, who goes back in history to find her favorite idol group, Little Tiger.

Last but not least, there was “How to Make Phra Aphai Fall in Love.” Released last October, this fantasy romance rises from the truly epic Thai poem, “Phra Aphai Mani” by the royal poet Sunthorn Phu. Readers quickly get swept into the main character’s adventure as she travels through literary dimensions for her coming-of-age. On the day it was launched, “Phrai Aphai” shot to the top of the platform as the highest-grossing webtoon.

“Thailand has so many creative stories to tell the world, and we are fully invested in growing together with the country’s content industry,” said Hyun Yang-won, managing director of Kakao Webtoon Thailand. “We are dreaming big. Our eventual goal is to take Thai webtoons global so these amazing stories can reach audiences around the world on Kakao Entertainment’s network,” Hyun added.

At the end of the day, this is what lies at the heart of all webtoons – allowing people to enjoy creative stories with ease anytime, anywhere. The powerful visuals don’t just support the story, they help deliver the narrative in the most compelling way possible. The webtoon market in Thailand may still be nascent, but local storytellers and creators are poised to reap the benefits of the innovative industry.

This year, Kakao Webtoon is lining up more exciting Thai webtoons in new story genres. Find out more here.