Manga vs. Manhwa: What’s the difference?

The world of illustrated storytelling has seen an explosion in global popularity over recent years. While many are familiar with the term ‘manga‘, fewer might recognize the term ‘manhwa’. Both represent vibrant and diverse worlds of storytelling, but they hail from different cultural backgrounds and possess distinct features. Let’s delve deeper into the nuances that differentiate manga from manhwa.

1. Origin:

  • Manga: This term is used for Japanese comic books or graphic novels. Originating in Japan, manga has become a significant part of Japanese culture and entertainment.
  • Manhwa: Manhwa is the Korean counterpart of manga. It originates from South Korea and, like manga, plays an essential role in Korean entertainment and culture.

2. Artistic Style: While both manga and manhwa boast unique and diverse artistic styles, some general differences can be noted:

  • Manga: Often displays a wide range of styles but tends to have detailed backgrounds and a particular emphasis on characters’ eyes.
  • Manhwa: Features cleaner lines and less detailed backgrounds compared to manga. Characters in manhwa frequently have more elongated figures.

3. Reading Direction:

  • Manga: Traditionally read from right to left, starting from the top right corner and moving to the bottom left.
  • Manhwa: Read from left to right, mirroring the way Western comics are read.

4. Publication Format:

  • Manga: Typically serialized in magazines before being compiled into volumes known as “tankobon”.
  • Manhwa: Often released as webtoons or online comics, especially in recent years. Physical volumes are available but less common than webtoons.

5. Themes and Genres: Both manga and manhwa cover a broad range of themes and genres. However, manhwa often reflects Korean society, values, and experiences, while manga does the same for Japanese culture.

6. Availability:

  • Manga: Available worldwide in various languages, with a robust market presence in many countries.
  • Manhwa: Its global presence has been growing, especially with the rise of webtoons platforms like LINE Webtoon, making it more accessible to international audiences.


While manga and manhwa both offer readers a chance to dive into enthralling stories accompanied by captivating illustrations, they each provide unique flavors influenced by their respective cultural origins. By understanding these differences, readers can more deeply appreciate the richness of both forms. Whether you’re team manga or team manhwa, there’s a vast world of storytelling waiting for you in both realms.

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