Updated: Jun 25, 2022
Written By: Joshua Lim
Published: June 1, 2022
It's officially June and looking back on May, Asian Heritage Month, I wanted to share the most interesting initiative I've seen. McDonald’s USA has partnered with WEBTOONS to create "Drawing on Heritage," a comic to celebrate Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. I felt compelled to share this being an ACENet member, 8-year McDonald's veteran, and comic book reader and collector who happens to use WEBTOON.
“Welcome to McDonald’s Drawing on Heritage series. Each week we are transported to moments in time, both real and fictional, drawing on the artist’s APA heritage. We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate family bonds, coming of age and what it means to grow up Asian American. Follow along as we celebrate throughout APA Heritage Month”
- WEBTOONS (Drawing on Heritage, 2022)
In Canada, May is Asian Heritage Month, "an opportunity for us to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the country we know and love” (Government of Canada, 2022). In a big step forward Ontario passed Bill 34 in 2021 which proclaimed May as Anti-Asian Racism Education Month! Similarly in the United States of America, May is designated as Asian Pacific Heritage Month. This time is meant to recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
WEBTOON is a South Korean created online platform to read comics. It is the world’s largest digital comics platform, with over 72 million monthly active users (Salkowitz, 2021). Launched in 2004 it was originally a website that published its namesake, webtoons (웹툰), a type of digital from South Korea that is meant to be read on a computer or mobile device. It is a pioneer of the online comic format and has since expanded into a global phenomenon and hub for international comic creators and fans.
“We started a whole new way to create stories and opened it up to anyone with a story to tell. We’re home to thousands of creator-owned content with amazing, diverse visions from all over the world. Get in on the latest original romance, comedy, action, fantasy, horror, and more from big names and big names to be - made just for WEBTOON. We’re available anywhere, anytime, and always for free.”
- WEBTOON (About Us, 2022)
WEBTOON features manhwas (Korean comics), mangas (Japanese comics), manhua (Chinese comics) and Western comics. WEBTOON has had partnerships with industry giants such as Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics. Its original content has had adaptations on Netflix, HBO Max, and on other streaming and distribution companies around the world.
Drawing on Heritage features the following popular APA WEBTOON creators: instantmiso (Eaternal Nocturnal and Siren's Lament creator), uru-chan (unOrdinary creator), Kris Nguyen (Cape of Spirits creator), and quimchee (I Love Yoo creator). In each episode, they share their personal stories tied to their cultural identities and experiences growing up in a way that celebrates and acknowledges the diverse APA communities. The episodes were released on Sundays throughout May.
Episode 1: Meals and Memories with Grandma – instantmiso shares her love for food, connection to her grandmother, and honouring of her Filipina heritage.
Episode 2: My Journey to the West – uru-chan expresses the difficulty of moving to a new country and navigating between two different cultures.
Episode 3: Your Move! – Kris Nguyen uses characters from his tabletop games to tell a story of friendship, fandom and growing up.
Episode 4: Rose Tinted – Quimchee will take you on a journey into her past as she recounts the sacrifices of being from an immigrant family that was constantly on the move in order to provide better opportunities for their family back home.
Just because May is over does not mean we should no longer include Asian perspectives in our teaching. Canada's strength lies in our diversity. Acts of injustice and racism are still prevalent. So for more Asian heritage/food related content and actually Canadian-based check out CBC Short Docs Original, "The Lunchbox Dilemma," a three-part series created by Chinese Canadian director, Yú, 瑜瑜. The Lunchbox Dilemma features three Asian Canadians who recall hiding, discarding and forgetting their lunches — the ones their classmates called “weird,” “smelly” and “funny-looking.” You can watch The Lunchbox dilemma on CBC Gems (here).
Government of Canada. (2022). Canadian Heritage. Canada.ca. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/asian-heritage-month.html
McDonald's. (2022). McDonald's Apa Community Hub. Retrieved from https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/asian-pacific-americans/en.html
Salkowitz, R. (2021). Webtoon CEO sees massive growth and new opportunities in U.S. market. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2021/11/02/webtoon-ceo-sees-massive-growth-and-new-opportunities-in-us-market/?sh=2f5d4d8c7707
WEBTOON. (2022). Drawing on heritage. Retrieved from https://www.webtoons.com/en/tiptoon/drawing-on-heritage/list?title_no=4315