Article (English) :

Visitors to the 20th Bucheon International Comics Festival read online comic strips with VR devices, at the Korea Manhwa Museum in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do Province, on July 22. (Korea Manhwa Contents Agency)

By Kim Eun-young and Kim Young Shin
July 21, 2017 | Bucheon

The 20th Bucheon International Comics Festival, the biggest comic convention in Korea, was held from July 19 to 23 at the Korea Manhwa Museum in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do Province.

During the convention, one of the most popular sites was the VR Webtoon Exhibition, where visitors could read six online comics — or “webtoons” — recreated for VR gear, including “Welcome to the Convenience Store” (와라! 편의점), which was also adapted into a video game and an animated series.

VR devices let readers enter a virtual empty space with a flat screen that projects a panel from the comic strip. Tapping the button on the gear, the next panel appears on the screen. For certain panels or series of panels, the scene is recreated all around the reader in the virtual space, as if the reader had dived into the comic strip.

For example, in “Welcome to the Convenience Store,” the reader becomes a clerk in the cartoon world. To the front, the owner of the store gives instructions. To the left is a door, and to the right is a shelf with snacks.

Visitors to the convention really loved the new experience.

Some stepped back, surprised at the arrows flying toward them, and some reached out their hands to touch a cartoon character. There were also visitors who screamed out loud because of the sound of a dinosaur or an explosion.

“The VR adaptation of cartoons is more effective with detailed artwork and realistic styles,” said curator Yang Byoung Seok. “It’s more dynamic compared to regular online comic strips, and it lets the reader be engaged with the work more intimately.”

Kim Rae-a, one of the visitors to the convention on July 21, said, “I usually read online comic strips with my smartphone. However, I could concentrate more with the VR version because it became so much more vivid.”

Another visitor, Cho A-ra, said, “I turned around in a motionless scene and it felt like as if time had stopped.”

Curator Yang added, “Wearing VR goggles for a long time can cause dizziness. When such problems are fixed, they could be used for a broad range of functions, such as for education, by applying artificial intelligence to cartoons.”

Welcome to the Convenience Store is one of the six VR cartoons introduced at a special exhibition at the 20th Bucheon International Comics Festival. (Comix V)