Manhwa: The Differences Between Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua

Manhwa and manhua have seen a rise in popularity in recent years due to manga’s growing popularity worldwide. Because manga, manhwa, and manhua share a similar pronunciation and aesthetic, it is possible to mistakenly identify these comics as being of Japanese origin.

However, a few small but crucial changes between the three truly make a difference. Let’s examine the distinctions between manga, manhwa, and manhua to help readers comprehend what makes them so distinctive in light of the large volume of anime produced nowadays.

The Evolution of Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua

Initially, the titles “manga” and “manhwa” were used in Japan, Korea, and China, respectively, as universal terms for any comics, regardless of the place of origin. The terms “manga” and “manhwa” actually stem from the Chinese term “manhua,” which means “impromptu sketches.” Today, however, foreign readers refer to comics published in a particular nation using these terms: manga denotes Japanese comics, manhwa denotes Korean comics, and manhua denotes Chinese comics.

Along with etymology, each country has historically inspired the creation of comics from the other:

  • A person who makes manga is known as a “mangaka.”
  • A person who makes manhwa is a “manhwaga.”
  • A person who makes manhua is a “manhuajia.”

The Godfather of Manga, Tezuka Osamu, the designer of Astro Boy, helped manga gain enormous popularity in Japan in the middle of the 20th century. But according to academics, manga originated much earlier, in the 12th or 13th century. The release of the Chj-Giga (Scrolls of Frolicking Animals), a compilation of animal illustrations created by various artists. American soldiers brought American and European comics to Japan during the American Occupation (1945–1952), which affected the mangakas’ artistic sensibilities. Due to a rise in readership in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a high demand for manga. Shortly after that, manga became a worldwide phenomenon, with foreign readership beginning in the late 1980s.

Of course, manhwa has its unique development history. Japanese soldiers introduced their language, culture, and even manga to Korean society during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910–1945). Manhwa was employed as political and war effort propaganda from the 1930s through the 1950s. 

Due to tight censorship restrictions, manhwa’s popularity peaked in the 1950s before declining in the mid-1960s. Manhwa, or webtoons known in South Korea, gained popularity again with the country’s 2003 and 2004 launches of Daum Webtoon and Naver Webtoon, two websites that publish digital manhwa. Then, in 2014, LINE Webtoon, a global debut of Naver Webtoon, took place.

Manhua and manhwa are different because the former comes from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Manhua is thought to have begun with the invention of lithographic printing in the early 20th century. With tales of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, some manhua was politically motivated. 

However, stringent censorship rules after the Chinese Revolution in 1949 made it challenging for manhua to be lawfully published outside. However, manhuajia started releasing their work on websites for webcomics, like QQ Comic and Comic.

Ideal Fans of Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua

A manhua comedy that uses the setting as the basis for interior speech.

East Asian comics typically target distinct populations based on age and gender with specific themes. Boys’ shonen manga in Japan is replete with action-adventure tales like Naruto and My Hero Academia. Shoujo manga primarily consists of women-centric, fantastical stories like Cardcaptor Sakura and intricate romances like Fruits Basket. Other manga lean older and contain more mature content, called seinen and josei. Manhwa and manhua have comics geared for particular populations, too.

Manga chapters are released in Japan weekly or biweekly in publications like Shonen Jump. If a manga is successful, tank on or collected volumes are removed. Chapters for digital manhwa and manhua are posted every week on webcomics sites.

The cast of Bleach lounging in jammies

An East Asian comic’s subject matter reflects the origin culture’s ideals. Manga has various fantastical and paranormal tales about shinigami, or death gods, like Bleach and Death Note. Manhua and manhwa frequently have comics with wuxia (martial arts chivalry) themes, like True Beauty, as part of their narratives.

Manhua and manga are read from top to bottom and right to left. Manhwa is read from top to bottom and from left to right, just like American and European comics. Digital comics allow infinite scrolling because the layouts are read from top to bottom. While digital manhwa and manhua’s vertical arrangement and unlimited scrolling are utilized to strategically show the movement of items descending or the passage of time, printed manga has limits when it comes to depicting movement in the artwork.

Manga, Manhwa, and Manhua’s Text and Art

The central love triangle from True Beauty, a manga. Manga is often published in black and white, both in print and digitally, unless special releases are printed in full color or with color pages. While print manhwa is typically published in black and white, like manga, digital manhwa is usually released in color. Digital manhwa is also printed in color, just like manhwa.

Tezuka Osamu drew his characters with wide eyes, small mouths, and exaggerated faces to convey particular emotions, drawing inspiration from Walt Disney’s artwork. Tezuka’s visual language influenced other artists in Japan and abroad. 

Characters in manhwa and manhua are frequently illustrated using more accurate depictions of human proportions and features. In contrast to digital manhwa, which has more plain backgrounds, manga and manhwa include realistic and intricate background settings that are practically photorealistic. It should be noted. However, that print manhwa is more comparable to manga in that respect.

In addition to describing the sounds of animals and inanimate objects, manga also employs a distinctive set of onomatopoeia to represent mental states and feelings. Similar to American comics, these onomatopoeias are written in the page’s gutters and adjacent panels. 

Onomatopoeia is also utilized in manhwa and manhua to depict emotions and body movements. Additionally, a novel feature of their electronic presentation, digital manhwas frequently incorporate music and soundbites to improve the reading experience.


We can easily access many East Asian comics thanks to the internet. Each comic book, whether a manga, manhwa, or manhua, offers advantages that improve reading for anybody, wherever.

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