"If you clear the quest, you will get everything"

Hardcore Leveling Warrior (Lucid Adventure), commonly known as Hardcore Leveling Warrior or as HCLW by acronym, is a South Korean manhwa and webtoon series written and illustrated by Kim Sehoon. The series is set in the world of Lucid Adventure, a place that is accessed through dreams. It follows Hardcore Leveling Warrior and his colleagues on their full fledged RPG adventure.

This webtoon was first published on January 24, 2016, through NAVER Webtoon (NAVER 만화) in author's native language - Korean. It is updated every Sunday.

Since the 7th of November, 2017 it has been translated and published in English on the Line Webtoon platform. It was originally updated every Tuesday and Friday but since the 26th of July 2019, it has be updated every Friday since catching up with the Korean translations.


"When you go from level 99 to level 1 and start all over again."
Hardcore Leveling Warrior was the No.1 Ranked player in Lucid Adventure and the only player on the server with The Golden Armor and max stats. He is a dirty player and is criticised for his antics such as stealing quests, blocking other users from completing quests and stealing MOBs that others had almost finished and is dirty.

During an SS-Class Quest, he is beaten by a mysterious assassin and his Golden Armor and items are stolen from him before his level and stats are Level 1. He must go on a long journey of redemption to recover his stats and power as well as earn enough money to repay the money he owes to loan sharks in The Real World.


Main Characters

Hardcore Leveling Warrior (Gun Won-Ho)

Hardcore Leveling Warrior was the No.1 Ranked player in the Lucid Adventure. He is the only player that has the Legendary Golden Armour and max stats in every category. Due to his dirty nature, he slighted many players and made a lot of enemies. On one of his quests, he is ambushed by many players but quickly defeats them. In the midst of all the chaos he is attacked by a mysterious assassin who strips him off his Golden Items and leaves him for dead. The Hardcore Leveling Warrior is killed and his level and stats are reset back to level 1. In the real world, Gun Won-Ho is a prisoner of a games workshop run by a gangster known as Chairman Kim. Gun Won-Ho plays Lucid Adventure in order to clear his debt.

Hardcore Levling Warrior begins a journey of to recover his lost level, stats and items and to earn enough money to pay back Chairman Kim. He parties up with Dark and Sora as they go on an whirlwind of an adventure.

Sora (Ko Sora)

A year ago during the war against Nightmare, Sora was saved by the then rank no.3 Hardcore Leveling Warrior. He motivated Sora to get stronger. A year later, Sora saves Hardcore Leveling Warrior and joins his party as they go on many adventures within the game. She wants to prove to herself and Hardcore Leveling Warrior that she has become stronger.

Dark (Han Gun-Woo)

Han Gun-Woo is the grandson of Han Gun-Jae, the Chairman of Giga. After his grandfather fell into a coma, he still appeared online in Lucid Adventure. Han Gun-Woo began playing Lucid Adventure in order to see his grandfather once again. He joins Hardcore Leveling Warrior in order to get stronger and to meet his grandfather once again.

Other Characters

Heart Heater

Heart Heater is a loan shark and a high-level NPC in Lucid Adventure. He acts as a quest intermediary and is an underling of Dark. He hates idiots that can pay back the money they borrows. Heart Heater has a habit of cutting off the fingers of those who do not pay their debts and nailing it on the wall of his Quest House.


Heart Heater's loyal assistant. Alongside Heart Heater, he serves Dark as an underling

Chairman Kim

The chairman of Miso Corporation. He is a loan shark and gangster that runs a famous Lucid Adventure workshop in South Korea where his debtors are forced to play Lucid Adventure constantly till they can pay back their debts. He uses Miso Corporation as a front to his illegal operations.

Yopi (Lee Doo-Yeop)

The King of Yopi Land and leader of the Eastern Alliance. He is a mysterious player that has been a thorn in Gigas side. For an unknown reason, He supports Dark's party which has put him at odds with Giga and threatens the fragile armistice that was enacted due to the war on Nightmare. The character's real name, game name and appearance are based on the author of the webtoons Taoist Land and Link Boy, Lee Doo-Yeop.


Taek is the Grand General of Yopi Land and one of Yopi's closest friends. He is known throughout Lucid Adventure for his brash attitude as well has his immense combat ability. The character's appearance and skill set carry the motif of Kim Gu, the main character of the Naver Webtoon series known as 'The Boss'. The character's name is based on Jeong Jong-Taek, the author of 'The Boss'.

Le. Rajie

Le. Rajie is a Great Demon that was de-powered and sealed in the Black Magic Dungeon by a mysterious woman. He is eventually defeated by Hardcore Leveling Warrior's party and becomes Dark's familiar. His personal goal is to get stronger and get revenge on the woman that sealed him the dungeon.

Light (Han Gun-Soo)

Han Gun-Soo is the vice-president of Giga and one of the grandsons of the Han Gun-Jae, the current Giga Chairman. In the game, he sends assassins to constantly kill Han Gun-Woo who is a threat to to the Giga fortune. His main goal is to win the Combat Tournament in order to gain the recognition of his father, the current acting Chairman of Giga.

Sword Master (Han Gun-Jae)

Han Gun-Jae is the Giga chairman and the grandfather of Han Gun-Woo. At some point in the past he contracted an unknown illness and was hospitalised. He gathered his family in the hospital and told them to log into Lucid Adventure as he will leave his will in there. He fell into a coma soon after. Despite being in a coma, Han Gun-Jae still appears as online on Lucid Adventure. His family are currently searching for him in the game.



A South Korean multinational conglomerate that created Lucid Adventure. It is a Chaebol that is controlled by the Han family. In the Lucid Adventure, Giga operates as the Giga Empire and ensure that order is kept in the game.

Yopi Land

The capital of the Eastern Kingdom and the kingdom of King Yopi. Yopi Land was at war with the Giga Empire but they had an armistice in order to suppress the growing threat of Nightmare.

Easter Alliance

An alliance composed of the nations within the Eastern Kingdoms. It includes Yopi Land, Azi, Ran, Eidayjuu, Teto, Irugo, Woof Woof Land and Cobalt. The alliance serves as a balance to The Giga Empire in Lucid Adventure.


  • Lucid Adventure: A popular VMMORPG that is accessed through a person's dream. It was created by Giga. An hour in the real world is 7 hours in Lucid Adventure. The game has become so popular that it has begun impacting the real world. What you can do in the game has as much impact as what you can do in the real world.
  • Personal Attribute: A skill randomly given to a player during character creation.It is an attribute given regardless of the players class or tribe. There are three tiers of personal attributes:
    • Tier 3 - Skill Type/Stat Type: A player with a skill Type is granted a unique skill while a player with a stat type is granted an increase in a particular stat. It is advantageous to choose a class that can utilise the enhanced stat.
    • Tier 2 - Class Type: The player can acquire an additional class by satisfying a hidden condition.
    • Tier 1 - Person Type: It is a type were a a particular person (or object) such as a great person, a celebrity or a hero in a myth becomes a class. This attribute allows the user to create his/her own original skill.
    • Tier 0 - Transcendental Skill Type: This attribute grants the player a skill that transcends the rules of the game. It is the rarest attribute and very few players have it.
  • Class: Also known as Job. Classes are divided into combat and non-combat classes.
  • Tribe: The race of the players such as humans, orcs and elves.
  • All-Stat: A player that has reached the max level in Lucid Adventure and has maxed out all the stats in the game.
  • Combat Tournament: A Lucid Adventure Tournament created and hosted by the God of Combat. It occurs once a year in Lucid Adventure time. The winner of the Tournament can gain great items and even an entire country as a reward.
  • Nightmare: A mysterious entity in Lucid Adventure that causes a bug in the game. It initiated the large-scale war known as The Very First War in the game. Any player caught using Nightmare is arrested and deleted from the game by Giga.
  • The Very First War: A year before the start of the series, a large-scale war occurred in Lucid Adventure. It was started by a red player guild known as 'Nightmare Guild'. Through the combined efforts of Giga, Yopi Land and other smaller nations, 'Nightmare' was eventually suppressed and has gone into remission.
  • Rankers: They are the strongest players in Lucid Adventure. Ranker become so popular that they shoot commercials like celebrities.
  • Combat NPC: The underlings of The God of Combat. They referee duels and PvPs in Lucid Adventure and act as enforcers of the rewards.


Kim Sehoon has stated that he came up with the basic idea of Hardcore Leveling Warrior whilst he was studying at University. He was also inspired by several MMORPG series including Vindictus, Mabinogi and Ragnarok Online.

He wanted to create a world of escapism, where people could escape their dark realities in the real world through the game world such as Hardcore Leveling Warrior. He incorporated a lot of his personal experiences into the series.

In 2013 or 2014, Kim Sehoon already had a picture of Lucid Adventure on his blog, but he scratched it. He already had a picture of Hardcore Leveling Warrior, although the overall characters design changed by the time the series came about. The idea of logging into Lucid Adventure and the House of Beginnings was already formulated in 2013 and Kim Sehoon even posted a thread about it on

Kim Sehoon put the first Episode of Hardcore Leveling Warrior as a Challenge Manhwa on the 24th of August 205. After the first 6 Episodes, Hardcore Leveling Warrior became one of the Best Challenge on Naver on the 30th of October 2015. By the the 15th of November 2015, Hardcore Leveling Warrior was prooted as a Webtoon. The first Episode of the Hardcore Leveling Warrior was posted on Naver on the 23 of January 2016.


Using the common isekai trope as a platform, the series pays homage to the South Korean culture, South Korean meme culture, South Korean gaming culture and the gaming culture at large. Kim Sehoon employs various motifs from East Asian Mythology, South Asian mythology, Norse mythology, Greco-Roman mythology as well as paying homage to various other webtoon series. In the second season, the series even incorporated elements of the popular Korean webtoon Delinquent trope.



  • Taoist Land
  • The Boss (Discontinued by Naver)
  • Sindorim
  • Troll Trap


  • Naruto
  • Crayon Shin-Chan


Asian Mythology

  • Three Kingdoms Mythology: A few characters carry the motifs of the characters's from the Three Kingdoms era and Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel.The characters include Guan Yu, Zhou Cang, Lu Bu, Zhang Fei, Liu Bei and many more.
  • Qin Dynasty Era: Various motifs of from the Qin Dynasty appear such as Xiang Yu.
  • Four Symbols: They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North. The Four Symbols are the bosses of each of the four levels of the 'The Tale of the Nicest Demon' story dungeon.
  • Journey to the West: Sun Wukong, the main character of the Journey to the West novel, appears as the motif of a player.
  • Joseon Dynasty: Various motifs from the legendary Korean dynastic kingdom appear in the series such as Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and the Turtle Ship.

European Mythology

  • Greco-Roman Mythology: Characters and skills carry the motifs of greco-roman myths such as Heriach (Hercules), Medusa, Hydra and gladiators.
  • Norse Mythology: Secretary Kim carries the motif of Skögul and Geirskögul.



Since it's inception, the series quickly rose to mid level popularity in Naver's Sunday Webtoon. Thanks to the steady and recent development it rose to become the 3rd most popular webtoon on Sunday. In the second week of April 2019, it became the No.1 webtoon on Naver's Sunday webtoon. By the time the second season the popularity declined slightly and it is currently the 5th most popular webtoon on Naver's Sunday webtoon.


The popular character known as Taek was suddenly removed from the Hardcore Leveling Warrior webtoon due to a plagiarising incident involving the Naver Webtoon series known as 'The Boss'. Scenes from a popular webtoon series known as Chan' were plagiarised by the 'The Boss'. The discovery was made by fans and posted on the internet. The plagiarised scenes were removed from the chapter and an apology was issued by Jeong Jong-Taek, the author of 'The Boss'. 'The Boss' was eventually pulled from Naver's website and has been discontinued permanently.

Due to Taek having the motif of Kim Gu, the main character of the discontinued 'The Boss', the author of Hardcore Leveling Warrior decided to stop using the character in his series. Naver released a statement in response to the situation, saying: "The character in question (Taek) is not a motif for Kim Gu, but rather a character that uses skills that are reminiscent of Kim Gu". Naver continued with: "It is not without the influence of 'The Boss', but it is difficult to say whether the character will appear in the future.The development of the story and the appearance of the character are entirely up to the artist."[1]


Many real world items were the primary focus on certain characters and story arcs.

  • Assassination - Mainly used by Giga to get rid of their enemies or people that can potentially get in their way.
  • Addiction - Portrayed mainly in the form of Gambling and gaming addiction, particularly by Hardcore Leveling Warrior.
  • Corruption - Especially by the Giga Corporation, Smile Corporation and the police force. Human corruption is one of the main driving forces behind Zero's actions to destroy both Lucid Adventure and The Real World.
  • Discrimination - This is shown subtly through the Players discriminating against the 'NPC', who are in fact 'real'.
  • Escapism - Hardcore Leveling Warrior and many players immerse themselves in the game world to escape their horrible lives.
  • Family Feuds - This is shown mainly through the Han Family. There is a feud over Roy Han's will as well as infighting within the family to get full control of Giga and Lucid Adventure.
  • Mass Surveillance - This is show by Giga monitoring and tapping up communications within Lucid Adventure.
  • Organ Trafficking: Chairman Kim sells the organs of men who fail to pay him back.
  • Prohibition - This is shown through Giga banning the use of Nightmare by regular players while they use it freely to achieve their goals. They also banned Godcha as well.
  • Propaganda - This is shown through Giga's deceit of the public. They pretend they are the Light in Lucid Adventure whilst using nefarious methods to get rid of their enemies in the shadows.
  • Prostitution: Chairman Kim sells women off into prostitution if they fail to pay him back.
  • Pursuing One's Dreams - Focused on throughout the series, particularly with Dark's Party. Many people are playing the game for a variety of reasons.
  • Slavery - This is shown primarily through Chairman Kim enslaving people that owe him debt and forcing them to play Lucid Adventure.
  • War - Focused on during The Very First War and the War between Yopi Land and Giga.
  • War Profiteering - Heart Heater speaks about War being profitable.



See also: List of Story Arcs and Episodes

Video Games

Other Webtoons

English Translations

The Series was originally translated by Game of Scanlation from February 2016 to June 2016. The series was the picked up by Hartigram then picked up the series from Episode 22. They translated it until Naver released official English translations through Line Webtoon.

There has been a lot of continued criticism of the translation quality done by Line Webtoon, as a lot of errors can be regularly seen in the translations as well as Line Webtoon unnecessarily changing the original names of characters such as changing 'Lu Bu's' name to 'Fengxian' for no apparent reason and not naming skills correctly. A lot of context is lost and plot development due to the poor translations.

List of Name Changes by Line Webtoon

In order of character appearance


Original Names Line Webtoon Change
Game Name Real Names Game Name Real Name
Hardcore Leveling Warrior Gong Won-Ho Unchanged Ethan Gong
Choco Flavoured Potato Soup

(Nickname: Chota)

Min Choco Pork Stew Unchanged
Dark Han Gun-Woo Unchanged Carter Han
Yopi Doo-Yeop Unchanged David
Light Han Gun-Soo Unchanged Lucas Han
Kim Jang-Suk Kim Jang-Suk Jang Kim Jang Kim
Sword Master Han Gun-Jae Unchanged Roy Han
Han Soo-Ah Han Soo-Ah Sua Han Sua Han
Secretary Kim Secretary Kim Mr. Kim Mr. Kim
The Best Swordsman Lee Ji-Hoon* Master Swordsman N/A
Open Your Mouth, Here Comes the Healing - The Ultimate Healer -
Constant Jin-Won Unchanged Jin
Kkakdugi - Radish Kimchi
Han Gun-Ho Han Gun-Ho Nathan Han Nathan Han
Lu Bu Yeo Bong-Sun Fengxian Fengxian Yeo
Assistant Manager Park 38 Park Sang-Jin Manager Park38 Sang Park
Han Sung-Gong Han Sung-Gong Sam Han Sam Han
- Han Sung-Hyun - James Han
- Han Sung-Joo - June Han
Hungry Ghost - Demon -
Elena - Helena -
- Jae-Suk - Jay
Live or Die by Style 2 - Stylish2 -
Yang Jin-Man Yang Jin-Man Scott Yang Scott Yang
Kang Je-Bo Kang Je-Bo Jeremy Kang Jeremy Kang


Original Naver Character Names Line Webtoon Change
Le. Rajie/Rajie Le. Lazie/Lazie
Kusham Koosiam
God of Combat Combat God
Ligos Rigos

Image Gallery

Notes & Trivia

  • Curiously, the acronym used by the fans of the series is HCLW rather than HLW. 'Hardcore' is one word but the acronym refers to it as 'Hard Core'. Despite the protest of some fans online, citing the HLW being the 'proper' short form, the use of HCLW has persisted.
  • The series uses 'Episodes', rather than 'Chapters'.
  • It uses a lot of the basic MMORPG terminology.
  • Due to the Korean version being released almost 2 years earlier than the English version, Line Webtoon have been releasing 2 Episodes per week in English. Line Webtoon 'fast pass' caught up to the 'regular' Naver releases with 'AE 2' on May 21st 2019. Line Webtoon's 'fast pass' caught up to the Naver's 'fast pass' on the 5th of July 2019. After this, Line Webtoon released a note underneath AE 6 saying "Updated Every Friday". This is because the Naver version is only released once a week. However, at this point, the normal release was still behind the Korean version so is still continued to be updated every Tuesday and Friday. Since the 26th of July 2019, the series has been updated only on Fridays.
  • The author has spoken about the completion rate of the series at various points. It should not be taken as complete gospel as the author has admitted that the stroy developed in a different way than he had planned at the beginning.
  • In February 2017, after Episode 56, Kim Sehoon said that the story was 25% of the way through.[2]
  • In January 2019, after Episode 155, Kim Sehoon said that the Webtoon was only 20% completed.
    • If this estimation is accurate, the series could have 620+ more episodes, making 700+ episodes in total. This would take another decade for it to conclude.
  • Kim Sehoon has said the series will have 3 parts.
    • Season 1 concludes The Combat Tournament Arc which ended on Episode 176. The 176th Episode was released on May 11th 2019 through Naver's 'fast pass'.
  • AE (After Episodes) are the short stories after Season 1. Kim Sehoon has said that people complained that the story moved too fast, so he is using the AEs to reinforce the story before starting Season 2. He wants to include a small but important stories in the AE.[3]
    • Season 2 will be a story two years after the Combat Tournament and there will be a lot of new rules and settings.
    • He got the idea of the AE from the Naver Webtoon and Line Webtoon series, Denma. The author of Denma, Youngsoon Yang, is a big inspiration of his.
  • On April 2nd 2019, Hardcore Leveling Warrior reached the top spot of Naver Webtoons Sunday comics.
  • Line Webtoon's 'fast pass' caught up to the Naver's 'fast pass' on the 5th of July 2019. After this, Line Webtoon released a note underneath AE 6 saying "Updated Every Friday". This is because the Naver version is only released once a week. However, at this point, the normal release was still behind the Korean version so is still continued to be updated every Tuesday and Friday. On the 26th of July 2019, the series has been updated only on Fridays.

Related Pages

External Links

Official Links

Unofficial Links


  1. Top Daily Korea: Naver Webtoon's The Boss Plaigarism, Fire Sparks on Hardcore Leveling Warrior
  3. AE 1
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