Kakao to buy online novel app Radish for $440m

The South Korean internet conglomerate Kakao purchases the online fiction app Radish for $ 440 million, it says Tuesday, making its 30-year-old creator a multi-millionaire five-year-old after it was founded.

The pay-to-read network offers serialized storytelling in smartphone-optimized bite-sized installations, with readers paying 20-30 US cents automatically to join a new episode or waiting for an hour to read it for free.

Like a Netflix for novels, Radish hired soap opera authors from inside, including a number of recipients of the Emmy Award, "to present the latest and brighter serial fiction to the readers," says the firm.

More than 50 initial categories still exist, and over 90 percent of the company's $20 million sales last year were compensated for by the division.

It is also a forum for independent writers and tells us that some make about $40,000 every three months on their website.

After graduating from Oxford in 2016, Founder and CEO Lee Seung-Yoon set up the firm and raised funds from investors such as the corporate risk and capital arm of the SoftBank Group.

He said, adding the purchase would realize his vision "on a far bigger scale and on an exciting basis." The unit purchasing his company, Kokao Entertainment, already produces original content from online news to TV shows, movies, and music of his own.

Any South Korean Internet companies have failed to extend their activities abroad, and the agreement is going to expand the presence of Kakao in North America and other English-speaking countries in a media statement. Radish said the deal.

When Lee was President of Oxford Union, he was formerly a political activist, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.

When asked if he wanted to go politics one day, Lee said to AFP: "No, I'm not."