Will Suzy’s “Doona!” succeed? The double-edged sword of webtoon adaptations

“Based on the webtoon of the same name” may be a double-edged sword to new K-dramas.

“Based on a webtoon of the same name”, this is a phrase that is often seen in descriptions of works recently released on OTT. Works based on popular webtoons are appearing one after another, but joy and sorrow are divided in terms of box office success. Original works’ fans are “secured fans”, but at the same time “cold-hearted critics”.


According to the entertainment industry on May 24th, several actors recently chose “webtoon-based works” as their comeback works. Singer-actress Suzy and actor Yang Se Jong will appear in a Netflix drama based on the Naver webtoon “Doona!” by Min Song Ah. tvN’s “See You in My 19th Life” starring actors Shin Hye Sun and Ahn Bo Hyun, which will be released on June 17th, is also based on a webtoon.

JTBC’s “Reborn Rich” (Korean name: The Youngest Son of a Conglomerate”), which caused a craze last year, is also based on a webtoon. At that time, the ratings exceeded 26%, and the topicality did not miss the upper ranks. All the actors who appeared in the series were called “conglomerates” for a while and became popular. Afterwards, even if they appeared in other dramas, they could not take off the tag “Reborn Rich”.


Works based on webtoons also shone in the OTT sector. TVING’s original series “Work Later, Drink Now” recorded the highest number of paid subscription contributions to TVING at the time of its release. In addition, season 2 was produced thanks to the popularity of season 1. In particular, it became the first Korean OTT original content to be invited to the Cannes International Series Festival in 2022.

Not all works based on webtoons are successful. Netflix’s “Black Knight” was expected as actor Kim Woo Bin‘s comeback work, but the response is somewhat withering in Korea. “Island”, which TVING spent 20 billion won on, also caused regret for falling short of the original.

See You in My 19th Life

However, these works also received meaningful results overseas. “Black Knight” ranked first in weekly viewing hours in Netflix’s non-English-speaking TV category for 2 consecutive weeks. This is in contrast to the harsh criticism of Korean consumers who have seen the original.

When webtoons are made into live-action works, the two keys to success are character synchronization and story adaptation.

First of all, one of the things that original works’ fans care about the most is casting. This is because the synchronization between actors and characters in webtoons is important. In this part, the drama “Doona!” is half successful. Lee Doo Na, the main character of the webtoon “Doona!”, is a retired idol, and Suzy actually worked as a member of girl group Miss A. In addition, she boasts a similar visual to the character, so she is gaining support from fans of the original.


Story adaptation also plays a big role. It is easy to lose the hearts of original works’ fans if you change the direction a lot to give a different feeling. Lines should be smooth. They may make viewers cringe because they do not seem real. In other words, it is important to mix cartoon elements properly.

Will “Doona!” and “See You in My 19th Life”, which will be unveiled in the second half of this year, be able to live up to the expectations? It is not long before they receive reviews from original works’ fans.

Source: Daum

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