The Korean company MStoryLink plans to create a joint venture in Russia to develop the My Comics platform for Asian comics.

The Korean company MStoryLink plans to create a joint venture in Russia to develop the My Comics platform for Asian comics.

The Korean company MStoryLink plans to create a joint venture (JV) in Russia to develop the My Comics platform for Asian comics. According to Kommersant’s interlocutors in the media market, some large publishing houses and services are interested in participating in the project. However, official copyright holders are still losing out to long-established platforms that distribute unlicensed content.

The Korean company MStoryLink is looking for a partner to create a joint venture in Russia, a representative of the state-owned South Korean creative content agency (KOSSA) Kim Si-woo told Kommersant. It will be needed for the development of the first official platform with Asian comics, “My Comics”. According to Kommersant, three companies are interested in participating in the project: Eksmo-AST, Bookmate (owned by Yandex) and Stroki (part of MTS). Stroki declined to comment. Other companies did not respond to Kommersant’s request.

MStoryLink (registered in Korea) is a subsidiary of Mstoryhub, a major producer of webtoon content (South Korean digital comics). The corporation includes D&C, the original producer and owner of the rights to the famous webtoon Level Up Alone. As stated on the My Comics website, the monetization of the project is carried out through “coins” – electronic money necessary for the user to purchase content. There is no subscription model on the service.

According to a representative of KOSSA, MStoryLink cannot independently promote products in Russia due to the lack of necessary knowledge about the market and actively fight piracy. Last year, KOSSA, together with My Comics, prepared a lawsuit against the Russian-language platform with Asian comics ReManga (see “Kommersant” dated September 25, 2023). It was clarified that back in 2022, “My Comics” sent letters to a number of platforms asking them to remove unlicensed works. Some of them, according to a KOSSA representative, deleted the content, but ReManga did not.

The establishment of a joint venture for the My Comics project will speed up the process of obtaining licenses for South Korean comics, a Kommersant source in the publishing market is confident: “This will allow direct communication with the copyright holders who are the creators of My Comics.” Plus, South Korean works are more popular in Russia than Chinese ones.”

Now the “My Comics” application, despite the licensed catalog, is noticeably losing to other market participants – MangaLib, ReadManga and ReManga, media market sources interviewed by Kommersant agree: “Although these platforms post unlicensed content, their audience is much larger – including due to the time of existence: the resources are more than five years old.” And official resources, such as “Strokki”, “Bookmate”, are just beginning to develop a segment with Asian comics, recalls one of the interlocutors. One of Kommersant’s sources estimates the audience of MangaLib at 5 million users.

Kommersant’s interlocutor on the media market confirms that official copyright holders are already threatened by long-existing resources: “MangaLib (one of the digital platforms with Asian comics.— “Kommersant”) plans to reintroduce the mechanism of paid chapters.” One of the first tests to introduce the mechanism was carried out in 2021, but the platform subsequently decided to abandon it. Now some of the works are paid, and advertising is built into free content. The mechanism of paid chapters implies payment for each chapter of the work, and not for it as a whole. MangaLib did not respond to Kommersant’s request.

Yulia Yurasova



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