2016

Exploring Popular Korean Webtoons: Tower of God by SIU

My most popular post so far, at least based on the number of views, is about Webtoons. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here. I was surprised to not only find out that there were a lot of people interested in them, I also learned that there was an established fan base! However, since my last post merely skimmed on the general topic of Webtoons and provided an introduction to the topic, this post will be about a specific Webtoon.

 

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The Webtoon I would like to introduce is titled “Tower of God,” or “신의 탑” in Hangul (Korean). The reason I chose this Webtoon is because it is one of the most popular Webtoons that is currently being serviced by Naver, and also because it is my favorite. It is by the cartoonist SIU (Pseudonym for Lee Jong-hui), and its first episode was published on June 30, 2010.  Yes, it really started 6 years ago, and it is still ongoing! So, if you are the type that cannot wait for new episodes (and often need to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix), I do not recommend that you delve in to the world of Webtoons. Webtoon episodes are uploaded once a week, but sometimes, there may even be disruptions in the weekly publishing due to a variety of reasons, ranging from computer issues to health problems of the cartoonists. The Tower of God is a Webtoon published weekly to Naver Webtoons, with new episodes theoretically published by Monday, making it a “Monday Webtoon.” However, in reality, they are usually uploaded earlier, usually late at night on Sundays. Please remember that these are all in Korean Standard Time (KST), so they might be quite different depending on your time zone.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s enter the TOWER!

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First, here is the official introduction of the Webtoon, found in Naver:

What do you desire?
Money and wealth?
Honor and pride?
Authority and power?
Revenge?
Or something that transcend all of them?

Whatever you desire- is in here.

I personally think that this is an excellent introduction to the Webtoon. The cartoonist used this as the teaser for the Webtoon in his prologue.

 

So, what is the cartoon about?

The story is about- you guessed it right- a tower! Well, actually, it is about the protagonist “climbing” the tower. The protagonist’s name is Twenty-fifth Baam (스물다섯번째밤), meaning the “twenty-fifth night.” The protagonist, while pursuing his female friend (it is ambiguous whether Baam has a crush on her), manages to enter this mysterious tower. In this fictional universe, this gigantic tower is the whole world to the characters of the story. It consists of multiple floors, and each floor consists of its own “world” that is ruled by a certain King named “Zahard.” The full details of the tower is unknown, but is continuously being revealed by the cartoonist.

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There are two “classes of people” in this hierachial society. The characters in the story that are climbing the tower are called “chosen regulars,” whom are candidates selected to climb the tower. These “chosen regulars” face tests in every level of the tower to advance to the next level. When these “chosen regulars” reach the top of the tower, they become “rankers.” However, there are also a hierarchy of rankers,  and the top rankers are called “high rankers.” There are also 10 families that are considered to be of “noble blood,” and their descendants are usually much more powerful than the others. The ruler of the tower is King Zahard, who utilizes an elite sect of females named “Zahard Princesses,” who defend the authority of the King. These females are kept chaste, as the King fears that children sired by these “princesses” may create powerful offspring that may challenge his authority. The story centers on Baam, who is not a “chosen regular,” as he actually was not selected to climb the tower. Rather, he opened the doors to the tower himself, basically making him to have selected himself. The story theme seems to be of a draconian and hierarchical world, and the associated concentration of power to the top elite and the strict adherence to traditions. The cartoonist often hints of discontent among some of the characters and corruption associated with the “ruling class.” If you would like to find out more, I suggest you check out the Webtoon.

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I personally found the Webtoon to be quite engaging, and despite the fact that the episodes are published only once a year, I found the wait to be worth it. With aesthetic drawings and a solid story line, the Tower of God is often considered by Webtoon fans to be the top Webtoon in Korea.  So, I strongly recommend that you check this Webtoon out if my article piqued your interest.

English Link:
http://www.webtoons.com/en/fantasy/tower-of-god/list?title_no=95

Korean Link:
http://comic.naver.com/webtoon/list.nhn?titleId=183559&weekday=mon

Enjoy!

1-4_webtoon

 

1 reply »

  1. I used to read this but it’s become very slow. Ever since it was published on Naver, the atmosphere became a lot less grim and the writing seems a lot more shallow, much more shounen-like to me. Too bad ‘cos the writing used to be top-notch and Baam was very well-written.

    I miss the times when the cast weren’t mere caricatures: Rak was a really good and fun character, Aguero was smart and devious, even the much hated Rachel seemed to have an agenda. Did SIU run out of ideas for S2 or is he following orders from Naver in order to boost the popularity of TOG? I don’t really know and don’t care anymore.

    Btw, given how broke SIU is, was joining Naver worth it? When I last read the comic, the poor guy couldn’t even afford a proper meal and lived on ramyun almost everyday. Looks like they’re squeezing him dry before throwing him away while retaining the full rights of the comic.

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