‘K-Webtoon’ sales in 2022 are the largest ever, “Author’s average annual income is more than twice the average salary of office workers”

By 2022, webtoon industry sales will reach KRW 1.9 trillion, and webtoon platform sales will exceed KRW 1 trillion for the first time in history
On the other hand, the artist’s income was ‘2 million won per year’, a decrease of 9,840 million won compared to the previous year
However, writer ‘Suduruk’ earns hundreds of millions of won per year on average
Annual income of webtoon writers as of 2022/Photo = Korea Creative Content Agency

In 2022, the webtoon industry and platform sales reached their highest ever. This is the result of continued growth at the center of K-content for five consecutive years. As the market size has grown and competition has intensified, the overall average income has decreased, but it has been found that there are many artists who earn high profits of hundreds of millions of won per year. As suspicions of related tax evasion are rising, industry circles are explaining that this is due to writers not being properly aware of complex tax issues.

Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Creative Content Agency announce ‘2023 webtoon survey results’

According to the announcement of the ’18 Webtoon Survey Results’ conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) together with the Korea Creative Content Agency on the 2023th, webtoon industry sales in 2022 recorded KRW 2021 trillion, an increase of KRW 1 billion compared to 5,660 (KRW 3,630 trillion). . This is the largest ever since the survey began in 1. Platform companies’ sales in 8,290 also increased by 2018% compared to KRW 2022 billion in 2021, reaching KRW 8,241 trillion, exceeding KRW 36.8 trillion for the first time in history.

However, as competition in the webtoon industry intensified, artists’ income decreased. The average annual income of webtoon writers in 2022 is approximately KRW 1 million for those who published serials throughout the year in the past year, a decrease of KRW 1 million from the previous year. During the same period, for writers who had published serials within the past year, the amount was 9,840 million won, which was also a decrease of 2,030 million won compared to the previous year.

MG (Minimum Profit Guarantee), a concept of advance tax, ranked first as the main source of income for writers. RS (revenue sharing), which receives more income in proportion to the success of the work, ranked second, followed by manuscript fees, overseas distribution, secondary copyright fees, and advertising revenue.

The average number of days per week that webtoon writers spend creating was 5.8 days, similar to the previous year, but the average creation time decreased slightly. The proportion of respondents who responded that it was 7 days decreased by 37.2 percentage points from 33.1% of the previous year to 4.1%, and the average time spent on creative days per week was 9.5 hours, down 10.5 hour from the previous year (1 hours). This is interpreted to mean that overwork, which was pointed out as a problem in the webtoon industry, has eased slightly over the past year.

Meanwhile, it was found that although the majority of writers were aware of the existence of standard contracts written by management companies, they did not actually utilize them well. Among 800 webtoon writers, 67.0% responded that they were aware of written contracts, but only 16.4% said they used this form. The proportion of those who responded that they only utilized some contract provisions was also high at 32.3%, and the proportion of those who responded that they could not utilize them was also high at 51.3%.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism plans to establish a country-centered system and expand business to increase the growth of the webtoon industry. Specifically, we plan to announce the direction for the development of the comics and webtoon industry within this month. Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo In-chon said, “We will foster comics and webtoons as the next-generation national strategic industry that leads K-content following K-pop and games.” He added, “By discovering necessary businesses and improving systems, Korea can lead the global comics and webtoon industry.” “We will support it,” he said.

Webtoon writer Yaongi (real name Kim Nayoung)/Photo = Yaongi’s Instagram

Webtoon author, controversial for tax evasion as well as high profits

Although the annual income of webtoon writers has decreased, they are receiving much higher income compared to the average salary of office workers during the same period. According to the National Tax Service, the average pre-tax annual salary of office workers in 2022 is 4,213 million won, which is less than half the annual salary of a webtoon author who published serials throughout the year (1 million won) during the same period.

The high profits of webtoon artists are already well-known in related industries. According to Naver Webtoon, which is considered the largest webtoon platform in Korea, the total annual profit of Naver Webtoon’s No. 2022 author as of 1 is 124 billion won. This is revenue earned only through the Naver Webtoon platform, and may be higher if revenue generated from other platforms is combined.

The average annual profit of all writers amounts to hundreds of millions of won. Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon also said in a conference call announcing earnings for the first quarter of last year, “The actual income of about 1 original professional creators in webtoons is more than 2,000 million per year on average per creator,” adding, “This is the per capita income of select creators, the top 3% of YouTube, of about 5~ “Even compared to $4,000 (5,000 to 530 million won), there is a significant difference,” he explained.

Meanwhile, as writers earn high profits, controversies over suspicions of tax evasion often come to the fore. A representative example is Yaongi (Kim Na-young), the author of the popular webtoon ‘True Beauty’. In February of last year, he was suspected of tax evasion and became the subject of a tax investigation by the National Tax Service. At the time, author Yaongi stated in an apology that “taxes were imposed on some items that were handled incorrectly,” and that “this is clearly my responsibility, and it was a mistake that occurred because I was not careful.”

The comics industry explains that this often happens because writers are not properly aware of complex tax issues. Shin Il-sook, president of the Korea Cartoonists Association, said, “Rather than intentional tax evasion, I believe there are cases of omission by mistake.” He added, “All writers are exempt from value-added tax, but the writers were not thinking about the fact that only webtoon artist corporations are exempt from tax, and then the investigation was conducted. “There are times when you get hit,” he explained.

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