Korean Men Moved to Tears in Webtoon Daetgeul
Jahyon Park (East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University)
In this talk, I explore the rise of emotional male audiences in the Korean digital media landscape, examining its connection to changing modes of masculinity. My focus is on webtoons, a popular form of web-based cartoons originating in South Korea and spreading across Asia and the USA as part of the Korean Wave.
I contend that the success of webtoons can be attributed to users actively engaging in the “Comments” or Daetgeul. This unique mode of reception not only provides visible audience interaction but also fosters emotional responses.
I suggest that the daetgeul space, serving as a mediator between media and audiences, should be recognized as a novel communication realm. It facilitates the development of emotional connections, empowering men to express their feelings actively, even leading to tears.
I analyze how this intimate virtual space forms communities of male audiences, sparking a new discourse around men’s emotional experiences in the reception of webtoons.
About the speaker:
Jahyon Park is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University. With a specialization in modern and contemporary Korean media, cinema, and literature, she attained her Ph.D. from the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University.
Her research centers on the portrayal and reception of gender images and minority groups within contemporary Korean media, particularly emphasizing the reception of new media webtoons and their transmedia content. Her work delves into novel theories regarding genre logic and reception theory.
She has contributed chapters to publications, including “Webtoon and Intimacy: Reception of North Korean Defectors’ Survival Narratives” in South Korean Popular Culture and North Korea, as well as “Crying Men Watching Webtoons: Misaeng and Korean Male Audiences” in the volume Here Comes the Flood: Perspectives of Gender, Sexuality, and Stereotype in the Korean Wave. She is writing her forthcoming book titled Webtoons of Weeping Men: Melodrama and Sympathetic Imagination in Contemporary Korean Digital Media.