Cultural intermediation and the basis of trust among webtoon and webnovel communities
2020, 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This study investigates some of the previously unrecognized reading, writing and sharing trends emerging across Asian-born popular digital webtoon and webnovel platforms. These particular sectors of the creative industries are rapidly becoming energizing vehicles for transmedia intellectual property (IP)-referring to a network of interconnected media, popular culture and merchandise emanating from a single creative source. Specifically, South Korean webtoons and Chinese webnovels are cultivating new audiences and participatory cultures beyond their Asian borders, and thus playing a significant economic role in the percentage of global GDP that the broader cultural and creative industries generate annually. To shed light on how this phenomenon is shifting various modes of production, this study analyses how a range of active fans, otherwise known as 'cultural intermediaries', have moved to the forefront of creative industry transformations while building trust among their followers and demonstrating loyalties with the platforms on which they circulate their user-created content. Taken together, the webtoons and webnovels explored highlight some of the complex impacts and tensions on the production, circulation, and translation of popular digital media in an increasingly participatory and decentralised online and mobile environments. In so doing, it introduces important global perspectives to an area of study often firmly anchored to Western cultural products and practices, thereby contributing to current discussions on the continuing transformation of creative work in Asia's digital economy.