BANKING ON CULTURAL INTERMEDIARIES ACROSS WEBTOON, WEBNOVEL AND VIDEO-SHARING PLATFORMS IN ASIA’S DIGITAL CREATIVE ECONOMY
This panel investigates how complex layers of trust and (dis)trust are surrounding and impacting on the fans, also known as ‘cultural intermediaries’, involved in the production, circulation, translation and remake of Korean and Chinese webtoon and webnovel platforms in Asia and among Asian users. Collectively, the panellists argue for a reconceptualisation of the concept of ‘Internet platform’. In so doing, we interrogate the concepts of ‘platformization’, ‘platform capitalism’ and ‘digital capitalism’ by asking: how, and with what effect, Korean and Chinese digital platforms – as well as their aggregated domestic and international users, are operating in the Asia Pacific, compared to more global ‘liberal’ platforms? Noting the activities of ‘digital champions’, such as the giant Korean search portal Naver, as well as China’s Kuaikan and Bilibili enterprises, which are now rapidly emerging in the shadows of their larger competitors: iQiyi (Baidu), Taobao (Alibaba), QQ (Tencent), collectively known as BAT. In sum, we show which Korean and Chinese webtoon and webnovel platforms are taking root in various regional territories and among regional audiences. Our intent is to illustrate how digital platforms (i.e. the globality of the internet) are refashioning the image of Korea and China, which is often viewed outside of their national borders as driven by an ideologically-free ‘broadband nirvana’ (Goldsmith et al. 2011), and tainted by authoritarian state, respectively. Accordingly, all four papers will consider how platform capitalism offers new ways to understand the outreach of both Korean and Chinese digital culture – from both economic and technological viewpoints.