[Japan] NAVER WEBTOON, Korean No.1 E-comics Provider, to Make Investment in LINE Digital Frontier, LINE’s New Manga Business Company

2018.06.28 Corporate Announcement

 

TOKYO – June 28, 2018 - LINE Corporation (“LINE”) and NAVER WEBTOON Corporation ( “NAVER WEBTOON”) have agreed to enter into a capital/business allianceby establishing LINE Digital Frontier Corporation (“LINE Digital Frontier”) on July 2, 2018 aiming to extend its electronic comics service named LINE Manga.

 

This alliance consists of both a capital investment and a business alliance aimed at accelerating the business for e-comic service LINE Manga and LINE Comics. JunKoo Kim, CEO of NAVER WEBTOON, will be appointed as the new company’s Director.

 

Since its launch in April 2013 as a smartphone based electronic comics service provider, LINE Manga has released at e-comic stores more than 250,000 titles published by more than 250 publishers and labels. Moreover, the service has built a platform to provide free, 600 daily-updated comic titles across publishers and the total download numbers through its app have exceeded 19 million to make LINE Manga the No.1 e-comics provider in Japan. In October 2014, LINE Book Distribution Corporation (“LINE Book Distribution”) was jointly established by Kodansha Ltd., SHOGAKUKAN Inc., MEDIA DO Co., Ltd. and LINE, and started LINE Manga service in Taiwan. In July 2015, the service started a free online distribution of original comics created by LINE Manga editorial team, and those have been published under LINE’s own label named LINE Comics and been sold at offline bookstores nationwide. Our publishing business, too, has continuously expanded in this way.

 

LINE now enters into a capital alliance with NAVER WEBTOON and will establish a joint company, LINE Digital Frontier, to expand LINE Manga and LINE Comics services domestically and internationally as well as to further enhance its business agility. We continuously work on the popularization and development of manga as digital content in which LINE Manga has been engaged. Our plan also includes amplification of LINE original titles, global expansion, market/customer analysis and user interface (UI)/user experience (UX) improvement based on contents, technologies and resources of NAVER WEBTOON to be utilized for the future development of LINE Manga.

 

As a first step, we plan to integrate XOY (pronounced as “joy”), a free domestic Web manga service provided by NAVER WEBTOON into LINE Manga within 2018. XOY, featuring many different types of original comics displayed on one vertical, easy-to-read strip, has gained over 2.3 million monthly active users. A variety of about 130 original titles, including “Tales of the Unusual” (by Osd) adapted for TV drama and “Lookism” (by T. Jun) boasting of 3 billion total views, will be released free of charge by LINE Manga. Not only in Japan, we aim to spread our original comics worldwide taking advantage of NAVER WEBTOON global network in Korea, the U.S., China, Taiwan and other countries. From July 2, 2018, LINE Book Distribution will become a joint company invested in by Kodansha Ltd., SHOGAKUKAN Inc., MEDIA DO Co., Ltd. and LINE Digital Frontier, and will work on strengthening cooperation with NAVER WEBTOON on the LINE Manga business in Taiwan.

 

Furthermore, we are actively leveraging the development technologies and design resources accumulated by NAVER WEBTOON to help LINE Manga provide users with more attractive services based on constant improvement efforts and consideration of various initiatives. In addition, specific service updates or new initiatives will be announced when available.

 

- Comment by Takeshi Idezawa, Representative Director and CEO of LINE Digital Frontier Corporation
LINE Manga has grown to become Japan’s No.1 electronic comics service provider and has produced many popular titles in the comic publishing business. However, we expect increasingly intense competition in today’s environment where domestic and overseas competitors are aggressively expanding their services. Under such circumstances, we aim to establish a leading position in the field of e-comics service by forming a capital alliance with NAVER WEBTOON to exploit both companies’ great strengths as well as reinforcing the cooperation also in overseas development to achieve even further business growth. We continuously strive to provide superior services as a company leading the popularization and development of e-comic and other digital content at the forefront of the industry. 

 

- Comment by JunKoo Kim, Director of LINE Digital Frontier Corporation
I believe that through the integration with LINE Manga, Japan’s No.1 e-comics service, NAVER WEBTOON’s accumulated efforts including the experiences of developing contents linked with technologies and of creating new types of digitally-speaking contents will invigorate our business.The comics released by LINE Manga will find far more readers in many more countries through global platforms such as NAVER WEBTOON and LINE WEBTOON.Our two goals we should achieve are to see LINE Manga titles gain enormous popularity not only in Japan but also in overseas markets, and to return even more profits to manga creators who create hit titles.

 

■ NAVER WEBTOON Service Overview
Since the launch of its first service in Korea in 2004, NAVER WEBTOON Corporation has grown into a globally leading Web manga and novel service provider enjoying 46 million monthly users and occupies the No.1 position in 70 countries today. Providing 6 app brands including global manga-specialized LINE WEBTOON mainly targeting the U.S., Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan; the paid comic/novel distribution service named NAVER BOOKS and novel-specialized NAVER WEBNOVEL, it globally distributes more than 1.2 million titles including approximately 2,300 original titles.In Japan, the company launched XOY, a free Web manga distribution service in 2016.

 

■ LINE Digital Frontier Corporation Overview
Company Name: LINE Digital Frontier Corporation
Location: 4-1-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Capital: JPY 100 million
Date of Establishment: July 2, 2018 (tentative)
Board Members: Takeshi Idezawa, CEO (Representative Director and CEO of LINE Corporation)
          JunKoo Kim, Director (CEO of NAVER WEBTOON Corporation)
          Shoji Yasuoka, Director (Executive Officer of LINE Corporation)
          Kokan Ki, Auditor (Executive Officer of LINE Corporation)
Business Description: Distribution of electronic comics service
Shareholders: NAVER WEBTOON, LINE 

 

■ NAVER WEBTOON Corporation Overview
Company Name: NAVER WEBTOON Corporation
Location: NAVER GREEN FACTORY, 6 BULJEONG-RO, BUNDANG-GU, SEONGNAM-SI, GYEONGGI-DO, 13561, KOREA
Capital: KRW 1.1 billion
Date of Establishment: May 1, 2017
Board Members: JunKoo Kim, CEO
          Chang Wook Kim, Registered Executive Officer (CEO of SNOW Corporation)
          Seon ju Chae, Registered Executive Officer (Executive Officer of NAVER Corporation)
          Jin Hee Kim, Auditor (CEO of NAVER I&S)
Business Description: Distribution of Internet services and online information, electronic publishing services, etc.
Shareholder: NAVER Corporation