Incheon Police Raided in Probe of Actor Lee Sun-kyun’s DeathSouth Korea Aims to Create ‘Netflix of Webtoons’, Announces Major Industry Support

SEOUL – The Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency conducted a raid on the Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency on Tuesday. This action is part of the ongoing investigation into the death of actor Lee Sun-kyun, who was notably featured in the Oscar-winning film "Parasite." The raid aimed to collect evidence regarding suspicions that police officials leaked information about Lee's interrogations to the media.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the focus of the raid was on gathering proof of the alleged leak, which resulted in the highly publicized questioning sessions of Lee. The actor was found dead in his car in central Seoul on December 27, in what appeared to be a case of suicide. This tragic event occurred shortly after Lee's third round of questioning by the police regarding allegations of marijuana use and consumption of other illegal drugs.

Earlier this month, Bong Joon-ho, the acclaimed director of "Parasite," along with numerous other figures from South Korea's cultural and entertainment sectors, issued a statement demanding an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Lee's death and the alleged leak of investigation details. The statement underscored the need for accountability and transparency in the handling of the case.

During the raid on Tuesday, investigators reportedly seized mobile phones and documents from some members of the Incheon police agency’s drug crime investigation division. These items are related to the investigation of Lee Sun-kyun. The police have planned to thoroughly analyze the confiscated materials to determine if any internal investigation information was improperly shared with certain news outlets. This investigation marks a significant step in addressing concerns about privacy breaches and media ethics in high-profile cases.

SEOUL – In a major move to bolster the domestic webtoon industry, the South Korean government has announced plans to develop webtoon platforms with global reach, akin to Netflix, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism revealed on Tuesday. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to enhance the international standing of South Korea's comic and webtoon sector.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the government intends to significantly expand the size of the country's comic and webtoon industry to 4 trillion won (US$2.9 billion) and boost industry exports to $250 million by 2027. These targets mark a substantial increase from 2022 figures, which stood at 2.6 trillion won and $107 million, respectively. These numbers not only represent rapid growth in the industry, with increases of 23% and 31.3% over the previous year, but also surpass the average growth rates of the broader content industry in South Korea.

Minister Yu In-chon, during a press briefing in Seoul, highlighted the importance of supporting webtoons as a means to strengthen the intellectual property rights of the entire South Korean content industry. With the recent surge in television dramas, films, and games based on popular webtoons, Minister Yu emphasized the timely need for effective support to continue producing high-potential blockbuster intellectual properties.

South Korea currently is home to four of the world's top five webtoon platforms in terms of sales, including Kakao Piccoma and Naver Webtoon. To support the growth of smaller, high-potential local platforms, the government will provide market information, consulting services, and translation assistance to facilitate their expansion into overseas markets.

Additionally, the government plans to establish an international comic and webtoon festival this fall, targeting primarily the Japanese and U.S. markets. The festival aims to become a prestigious event in the industry, akin to the Cannes Film Festival, and will include competition categories and awards for global industry players.

In response to the industry's growing demand for skilled professionals, the Ministry is set to launch three programs starting this year, aimed at fostering creators, industry personnel, and translators specializing in webtoons. By 2027, the Ministry aspires to establish a dedicated school, inspired by the models of the Korean Academy of Film Arts and the Game Institute. This institution will amalgamate the three specialized programs, creating a comprehensive training ground for the webtoon industry.

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