The popularity of manhwa has been on an upward trajectory in recent years, and that’s one of the best things to happen. Long time manga readers are now taking note of the awesome stories coming out of South Korea. And that’s the topic of today’s article, listing down the best manhwa for you to read if you are beginner!
While manga comes in black-and-white format and may get a colored version years in the future, manhwa generally come in full color. A few years ago, not many people were aware of these manhwa (or webtoons), but it has started gaining popularity in not just Japan, but also all over the world and there are a couple of reasons behind that.
You can say that the awesome stories might be the reason behind its growing popularity or the fact that it comes in full color, but I would say there are other reasons too.
One of the biggest reasons in my opinion is the insane success of titles like Solo Leveling, Tower of God, Noblesse, The God of High School and others that grabbed the attention of otakus all over the world, and they embraced these titles wholeheartedly because they are just so awesome. Plus, the popular manhwa titles have started getting anime adaptations as well!
And these are not the only titles that are worth reading, there are literally a ton of best manhwa and Korean webtoons out there that will hook you immediately.
If you haven’t read any manhwa at all but you are interested in starting it, then I have compiled a list of some popular manhwa below and they would be a perfect starting point. But beware, once you start reading, you will keep reading more and more and that’s exactly what I am after!
The Best Manhwa & Korean Webtoons (2021)
23. I Am The Sorcerer King
Set in a dark world full of grief and sadness. Humans and monsters alike, seeking survival in a world where hopes are slim. The question is, who would prevail? Humanity or monsters? This survival-themed manhwa starts when monsters from certain rifts in time and space start attacking humans. It became a free for all and society returned to a barbaric state where the powerful and the famous controlled everything.
Lee Sunghoon, the MC of this manhwa, is a regular, talentless human being who is nothing but a pawn in this dark world. To survive, he has to work with hunters who use him as bait for monsters. Although a deadly, thankless job, our MC has no choice but to do it because he wants to save his ailing mother. Things soon turn worse for our MC as he gets fatally wounded. On the brink of death, his life flashes before his eyes and he realizes who he was in his previous life. He was, the Sorcerer King and through this realization, this immersive manhwa truly begins.
How far would you go to secure peace and ultimately protect the lives of your loved ones? Two warring clans, the Azure and the Crimson clans, which have been in conflict for centuries, suddenly decided to opt for a different way to coexist to secure peace. The Crimson clan offered an alliance to the Azure clan, which was further strengthened by the marriage of the heirs to both clans, Kyro and Clove, and their relationship will determine the fate of these clans and its people!
21. Tomb Raider King
Suddenly, places referred to as “The God’s Tombs” begin to appear worldwide and these tombs are wrapped with an air of mystery. Soon after discovering these tombs, it was also revealed that there are runic stones that can grant power within these tombs. But, there is also a chance of being enslaved in such tombs.
This happens to the protagonist, Seo Joo-Heon, who dies due to enslavement in the god’s tombs. Before dying though, the unexpected happens, and Seo gains an amazing power that allows him to reincarnate as the Tomb Raider King! This is the story of a revived Tomb Raider who aims at conquering all the tombs and collect all the relics for his own benefit.
20. Wind Breaker
If you are interested in sports-based manhwa, then Wind Breaker is a perfect choice. The protagonist, Jay, is the ideal student, and he has what every person interested in academics should aspire for. Excellent results, leadership positions name it and Jay’s got it covered. Soon Jay is coaxed into joining the school’s biking team, of which he had no interest. However, he soon discovers that there is much more to biking than he initially assumed. This is one of the best manhwa you should read and it is about Jay’s exciting adventures as a biker and other thrilling stories.
If you are looking for an overpowered MC, then this manhwa’s got you covered. The storyline is set in a world with powerful gods and helpless humans. The protagonist, Kubera, a child of prophecy, has overwhelming strength but cannot control it. The main plot begins after the village Kubera lives in is destroyed. Kubera teams up with a mysterious magician Asha, and they both begin a journey that consists of training to subdue Kubera’s power, a quest for revenge, and power tussles in a world of Gods and Suras!
The plot of this manhwa revolves around an interesting concept, “fear.” The main character, Leon, is a high school student that possesses the ability to see voices in colors and identify people by such colors. Later on in the manhwa, he soon discovers a unique set of monsters known as “Timorem.”
These monsters have special abilities that allow them to feed on people’s fears. Leon also encounters an organization, Catharsis, that has the sole purpose of fighting Timorems. It is only a matter of time before Leon is caught in the conflicts between both sides. Can he maintain his sanity while trying to control his own fears? Read this manhwa to find out.
17. True Beauty
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be famous and what it really entails? The story revolves around Lim Jugyeong, a shy comic book fan who likes make-up and beauty treatment. After watching several make-up videos and practicing what she learns, she masters make-up and its application.
Lim uses this skill to improve her facial features and soon becomes hot stuff overnight. She enters a new world that is full of glamour, fame, and other things celebrities enjoy. However, Lim has a secret that can threaten her elite status. How long before everyone finds out?
16. Second Life Ranker
The main protagonist Yeon-woo had a twin brother who suddenly disappeared under suspicious circumstances around five years ago. Later on, Yeon-woo discovers a watch belonging to his missing brother. He opens the watch and discovers that it is actually a diary that holds his brother’s secrets.
In the diary, he discovers that his brother was betrayed when climbing up the “Obelisk”, the Tower of Sun God, a world where different dimensions meet. Yeon-Woo then decides to climb up the Obelisk and with the information available in the diary, he manages to quickly amass enough power and status; all in a bid to avenge his twin brother.
15. Safely Endangered
If you are interested in reading the best manhwa and the best webtoons, but also enjoy reading something comedic and light-hearted without much plot to it, then Safely Endangered is a perfect choice. It is a comic strip illustrated by Chris McCoy and it is silly in every sense. The subject matter varies depending on what happens. It is an enjoyable read if you are interested in dry humor and exaggerated artwork.
Bastard is a thrilling, psychological manhwa that will mess with your mind. The main character, Jin Seon, has a weak body structure, and because of this, he is constantly bullied by people around him. However, his life as one that is being bullied pales in comparison to the fear of his father.
Jin Seon’s father is a successful business mogul who is gentle looking by appearance; but appearances can be deceiving! In reality, Jin’s father is a crazy serial killer, and no one except Jin and the people his father killed knows this. Soon a new transfer student, Kyun Yoon, appears and his father’s interest becomes directed towards her. Will Jin assist his father in committing another atrocious act or rebel against him to protect this girl?
The plot of this manhwa revolves around the character John, who appears to be an average high school student. In the high school he attends, elites with great powers and unique abilities decide how things should go. However, later on in the manhwa, John’s secret past is revealed and it threatens to shake the current social standing.
This is where the plot begins to take shape, and the character development is almost unexpected. Different circumstances and conspiracies that will leave you ruffled becomes connected to John, showing how “unOrdinary” he really is!
12. Orange Marmalade
In this manhwa, humans signed a peace treaty with vampires to coexist with humans about a hundred years ago from the present storyline. Despite signing this treaty, vampires are forced to keep their identities a secret and are often discriminated against.
This can be seen in the character Baek Mari, a vampire who has lived a harsh life because of this discrimination. The hardship and endless prejudice now affect her perspective on how love and friendship should be. She meets Jung Jae Min, and her life changes because of the events surrounding their encounter.
DICE‘s storyline can be likened to the tales of Aladdin and the genie but in a circumstantially different manner. The main character Dongtae is an ordinary high school student in every sense. While following his friend Taebin, he discovers a dice that was initially meant for his friend on his way home.
During a brief scuffle for ownership, Dongtae activates the dice and becomes a dicer. This unique dice Dongtae found can increase one’s stats with points. Dongtae uses it to change different aspects of himself, like his appearance and intelligence level. However, he later discovers that there is more to the dice than meets the eye!
10. Black Haze
Black Haze is one of the best manhwa which is packed with comedy, action, drama, and so much more. The MC lives a pretentious life by hiding what he truly is and how powerful he can be. In reality, Rood might look like the average magic user, but he is actually one of the most powerful magicians in the manhwa.
In a world of magic, the protagonist, Rood Chrishi, works for an organization that sends him on trivial missions of no consequence. However, one day a powerful magician requests his organization’s help on a matter that seems trivial on the surface. He soon realizes that the situation was more dangerous than he expected. Will he be able to complete the mission while keeping his cover? Read this manhwa to discover an adventurous tale filled with magic and so much more.
9. The Lady And Her Butler
The Lady and Her Butler is a story that is filled with romance, drama, and comedy. The main character Sooha is always having relationship problems, and each time such problems come up, she calls her mum to give her advice on what she should do.
Sooha soon grows tired of this cycle and decides not to be involved with any man again. However, this changes when a broke and homeless man shows up at her doorstep and offers to maintain her house in exchange for living temporarily in her home. She accepts the offer because it’s a win-win, and she doesn’t get to pay him. Soon their relationships become complicated, and events Sooha did not bargain for start occurring.
8. The God Of High School
If you are looking the best manhwa, but you incline more towards action and would rather read an action-packed manhwa with many powerful characters and battles, then The God of High School would be the perfect title for you.
The God of High School is basically a competition that hosts fighters from the whole of South Korea to determine the strongest amongst all of them, and the winner of the competition gets a wish granted by the organization that hosts the competition. Jin Mori, a highly skilled fighter, enrolls in the competition solely because he loves to fight and wants to become stronger and stronger that he currently is. Jin Mori becomes friends with two people in the competition, Han Daewi and Yoo Mira, and they resolve to win the competition. But it’s not just a simple competition as a lot is happening behind the scenes, and many more things are at stake!
7. The Gamer
Imagine suddenly having abilities that you have only fantasized about; won’t it be astonishing? The gamer is a story about a character that develops god-like abilities that is only possible in games. The protagonist in this story, Han Jihan, suddenly develops abilities where his world changes to a game-like environment.
He gains the power to do things that are only conceivable in games, such as the ability to level up, see other people’s stats, and many more. He soon realizes that monsters also exist, and he takes up the task of slaying them with his newfound abilities.
6. Adventures Of God
This is one of the best webtoons that you should definitely start reading right now, no matter what kind of a person you are or what kind of stories excite you! This manhwa revolves around what happens after God creates the world.
God finds running the world as a task that requires more effort than he initially bargained for. He then assigns Gabe, his right-hand man, to look after heaven in his place, with the occasional help from Jesus. At the same time, Lucifer and his servant Ebag find running hell equally challenging because of handling dead sinners and other tasks. Adventures of God shows how God and Lucifer handle their respective task to keep the world in balance, and they do it in a completely hilarious fashion!
5. The Breaker
Yi Shi-Woon’s life at high school consists of him being bullied mercilessly, especially by a fellow student Ho Chang and his gang. One day, Han Chun Woo, a mysterious-looking man who later turns out to be a teacher, spots Yi Shi-Woon during one of his beatings.
Instead of helping, Chun Woo calls Shi-Woon, a coward for not fighting back. Shi-Woon later decides to join a martial arts academy because of the frequent abuse. On his way to enrollment, he spots Chun Woo beign surrounded by furious-looking men. Chun-woo fights all of them by using martial arts techniques while Shi-Woon secretly records this whole scene. He uses the video to blackmail Chun Woo into teaching him martial arts, while being completely unaware of his shady past.
4. Sweet Home
Sweet Home is one of the best manhwa to read at the moment and it focuses on Cha Hyun, the protagonist, who is a shut-in that likes playing video games all day. Suddenly, finds his simple life changing before his eyes. First, he loses his entire family in a tragic accident., then he is forced to leave his current home and move into another apartment where he will have to cater for himself, which is a problem because he does not have money.
More importantly, people all around him suddenly begin to turn into monsters putting the world in a state of panic. Soon Hyun realizes that he is also turning into a monster. Terrified by this fact, he teams up with neighbors to discover what caused the monster outbreak and figure out a way out of this situation!
Cadis Etrama Di Raizel, a beautiful, charismatic, and dignified creature known as “the Noblesse,” awakens after slumbering in a coffin for 820 years. Upon awakening, he discovers that the world has changed a lot while he was in his coffin.
He then searches for his loyal servant, Frankenstein, who now works as a principal in a high school academy. In order to blend in and learn more about this new world, Raizel becomes a student and befriends other students as well. However, it is not long before danger comes crashing in as new and old foes start appearing. Raizel must protect his new friends and comrades from sinister forces that threaten their lives and safety.
2. Tower Of God
Bam had lived a solitary life before meeting Rachel, who, in his opinion, brought life and warmth into his life. Not so long after their meeting, Rachel tells Bam of her desire to climb the Tower. Now, this particular Tower is known to grant the wishes of anyone that can reach the top. Rachel leaves Bam behind to climb the Tower. However, Bam ignoring the wishes of Rachel, ascends the Tower, hoping he would meet her.
During Bam’s ascension of the Tower, he discovers that the Tower is filled with monsters, conspiring humans, and other intriguing subjects. Every floor in the Tower is monitored by an Administrator, and soon Bam finds out he is an “Irregular,” because he entered the Tower on his own instead of being selected from within the Tower. Tower of God is one of the best manhwa at the moment with an extensive world-building and a strong plot, and this story is something that you definitely don’t want to miss!
1. Solo Leveling
Was there any doubt in your mind that Solo Leveling wouldn’t be in the top place among the best manhwa of 2021? If you had doubts, then you aren’t reading enough manhwa! The plot setting of this manhwa is in South Korea where the protagonist Sung Jin-Woo used to be a low-ranking hunter nicknamed “world weakest hunter”.
One day after going on a nightmarish hunting expedition that shook him to the core, he wakes up on a hospital bed with a unique skill most hunters do not possess. This skill was the ability to level up by going on special missions. Sung Jin-Woo soon begins to level up at a fast rate and before he knows it, he joins the level of the highest-ranking hunters in the manhwa but he doesn’t stop there as he keeps getting stronger and quickly becomes even more powerful than the most powerful characters in the show. However, will Sung Jin-Woo be strong enough to stop an evil force unknown to hunters who’s hellbent on annihilating all humans?
What Are The Best Manhwa And Webtoons of 2021?
There are a lot of other manhwa and webtoons that you can read, and I am sure you know of some title that deserves to be among the best. If you think that I missed out on a popular webtoon and didn’t include it in the list, then make sure to let me know in the comments section below.
But if you think I did a good job at listing the best manhwa in this article, then show some love by sharing the article with your friends and tell them all about the awesome titles you just found!