Park Tae Jun, the author of the popular Webtoon Lookism, first broke into the public eye ten years ago when he was featured on the cable TV show Ulzzang Generation. The Korean slang ulzzang comes from two words- face (eolgul) and best (jjang). As an ulzzang, Park quickly became popular for his handsome face. During this period, his Cyworld page recorded over 2 million visitors! But how he turned this fame into a multi-million dollar fortune was hardly predictable for anyone.
Using his popularity, Park started an online store for which he also modeled. But soon enough, his calling led him to the world of webtoons, as he closed his store and started working on his Webtoon full-time. In 2014, he began publishing his first work, Lookism, in serial order. The manhwa revolved around a school student who gets bullied for his looks and then gets blessed with a handsome new face and perfect body. Lookism was originally uploaded on ‘Dojeon Manhwa’ (translated as ‘Comic Challenge), a NAVER platform where amateur artists showcase their work. But it managed to grow beyond its boundaries, racking up 910,000 views worldwide. The series has maintained its popularity even after eight years of its beginning.
As Lookism gained more popularity, it got translated into eight other languages, including English, Thai, and Japanese. Park Tae Joon became a star-level manhwa author, creating more notable works such as My Life As A Loser and How To Fight. He also founded his own company, The Dream Entertainment, which he currently leads as a CEO.
His achievements as an artist were already enviable, and now he has successfully pulled through a Netflix deal too! The platform released an animation series based on Lookism with the same title on December 8. This release is monumental for a couple of reasons. For starters, it is the first time Netflix has created a series based on Naver Webtoon’s IP (intellectual property). It is also the platform’s first direct production of a Korean animation series. Plus, the series carries many expectations to see if Korean animation can make its mark in a Japanese-anime-dominated market.
Netflix hired renowned voice actors such as Yoshitsuku Matsuoka (voiced Inosuke Hashibira in Demon Slayer) and Daisuke Ono (voiced Erwin Smith in Attack On Titan) to work in the Japanese dubbed version of Lookism. Roh Sung Yeon, the head of Naver Webtoon’s global IP business, said that this could open up opportunities to promote more domestic webtoons and offer them to not just the fans of the comic but also to the global fandom of animation.
Apart from his trailblazing webtoon career, Park Tae Joon has also gained public attention for his real estate investments. He is said to own multiple buildings in Seoul. He heads a company called J Studio, which acquired a four-story building in Sinsa-dong in 2020 for ₩20.4 billion KRW (about $15.6 million USD). Last year, the company also acquired the Emporia Building in Gangnam for ₩79.0 billion KRW (about $60.6 million USD). They also own a superstation building in Songpa-gu that is evaluated to be ₩10.0 billion KRW (about $7.67 million USD). The total worth of all the buildings owned by Park is now estimated to be well over ₩100 billion KRW (about $76.7 million USD).