VFX Kross Comics and Kross Pictures’ to grow in India and produce a lot more K-webtoons based K-dramas: co-founder Hyunwoo Thomas Kim -

Kross Comics and Kross Pictures’ to grow in India and produce a lot more K-webtoons based K-dramas: co-founder Hyunwoo Thomas Kim

Earlier Animation Xpress had reported that Netflix’s Korean drama Business Proposal, which is based on Kross Komics’ webtoon of the same name, has garnered tremendous viewership, and as a result, the readership of the comic has also increased. 

In an exclusive interview with ANX, Kross Komics co-founder and CEO and Kross Entertainment co-founder Hyunwoo Thomas Kim speaks in length about the effect of Business Proposal, the acquisition of his group by Kakao, expanding management in India, post-pandemic readership and much more.

“The popularity of K-Pop and K-Drama has been growing exponentially in India in the last couple of years, and that has opened up Korean culture to many young Indian consumers,” said Kim about the Korean wave in India. He added, “Indians are now exposed to everything K, including the K-Beauty, K-Drama, K-Pop, so now they are ready to explore more and K-Webtoon is an interesting area.” In his opinion, Korean music and films have helped in the growth of their business in India.

Bringing to fore the success of comics when a web series is made based on it, Kim said, “The company is experiencing that in the last couple of months.” Since the time Korean drama started streaming on the popular OTT platform, the readership of the webtoon has grown significantly. He said that the company has definitely seen a synergy being created between the Korean drama and webtoon. The series Business Proposal broke the charts as it became the number one show on the Korean channel SBS and the ratings went up to 11 per cent, which started at around four per cent. Simultaneously, Business Proposal was shown on Netflix and it became the number one non-English show in 30 different countries, including India and is still popular in India and Japan. Kim shed some light on how Kross Komics managed to strike a deal with Netflix for Business Proposal. He said that Kross Komics was working very closely with Netflix Korea and that Netflix was keen to work on this project from the beginning. He further revealed that before the project was completed Netflix gave them the offer to buy the global distribution rights.

Apart from Business Proposal, the company is working on several projects to convert a webtoon into a web series and Again My Life is one such example, which is now a number one drama in Korea based on the webtoon of the same name. Kim asserted that the forte of Kross Pictures is to create K-Dramas based on Korean webtoons. Talking about the production part, he said that making a movie in India and Korea creates cross border difficulties, but in the next couple of years, they will try to make something happen. While giving insight about the second season of Business Proposal, Kim said that many companies have approached them and they are considering it but nothing has been confirmed yet on their front. Kim refused to comment on the property rights the company and Netflix have over the Business Proposal as it might violate the non-disclosure agreement. 

Poster of webtoon Again My Life

Currently, Kross Komics and Kross Pictures are the subsidiaries of Kakao, one of the largest IT companies in Korea. After becoming the subsidiaries, the operations have become much more active and they are growing in India. On the Kross Komics front, the company is launching the third version of their app, a much more sophisticated one in the fall of this year and it will be mainly supported by Kakao. Kross Komics will be getting many more webtoon titles from Kakao, and with the help of Kakao, Kross Komics will be growing its business in India. 

Upon being asked, Kim said that the company is planning to expand the team in India as their operations will grow. He added, “The keyword for their company starting this year is to grow in India.”

Talking about the scenario during the pandemic, post easing of covid-19 restrictions, Kim said, “Readership during the pandemic has grown very much and I guess that can be seen across the industry, the readership has grown significantly during the pandemic.” About the post-pandemic situation, he added, “We don’t see much change, we have grown and maintained the level.” 

Regarding Kross Komics’ plans on creating content in regional languages, Kim shared, “For now, we are going to mainly focus on Hindi, English and Telugu, and in our mid to long term goal we would like to expand to other regional languages.” As of now, Kross Komics has content that is created in Korea and the U.S. They don’t have any Indian content on their app hence, none of the Indian creators are currently working with Kross Komics. But, as a part of their mid and long-term goal, they are planning to create and produce webtoons that are made by Indian artists. Soon the company will find and explore full-time Indian artists so that in future they have enough Indian artists to work with in India. 

The business model of Kross Komics is essentially to bring more popular titles from Korea and the U.S., and the company is not creating any new content. 

Kross Komics has webtoon based across genres like romance, comedy, fantasy, a slice of life and horror. Upon being asked whether the company wants to venture into mythology thoroughly as they have only one comic Swaha, which draws inspiration from Indian mythology, that too is created by an American artist, Kim said, “Not at the moment, maybe eventually when we start producing local content.” According to him, mythology as a genre seems India specific, and they are not active in content creation in India, hence currently it is not their forte. The company is not planning to create content based on mythology in the near future. 

Poster of webtoon Swaha

The world seems to be fascinated by NFTs and metaverse, we asked Kim about his thoughts on comic NFTs, and he said, “The NFT technology is gaining popularity, but at the moment we are not embracing the technology yet. We think it is an interesting technology, but we don’t know as of now how it can help us in service of our webtoons to the readers.” Kim assured us that as the technology gets more popular they will surely figure out the ways to embrace it. 

Left to right cast of The Devotion of Suspect X : Jaideep Ahlawat, Kareena Kapoor, Vijay Varma with director Sujoy Ghosh

As for Kross Pictures, it is encouraged by production in India. The company is currently working on Netflix’s The Devotion of Suspect X starring Kareena Kapoor and Jaideep Ahlawat among others. Kim informed that the shooting for the same began a few weeks back, and he was in Darjeeling for the same. The other notable project that Kross Pictures is working on is the Hindi remake of Miss Granny, a 2014 South Korean movie which was earlier remade in Telugu called Oh Baby!. The Hindi remake of Business Proposal is in talks, and they are likely to announce the same soon. The Blind movie starring Sonam Kapoor is a co-production of Kim, the shooting of the movie is completed and the movie is looking for an OTT release. They are working on several projects with big celebrities in Bollywood as well as in South India. 

The crew of film Blind along with lead actress Sonam Kapoor

Kim concluded by saying that the team is active on both Kross Komics and Kross Pictures’ sides and many exciting things are in store!