Koreans in Uruguay
Coreanos en Uruguay
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Rioplatense Spanish, Korean
Related ethnic groups
Korean diaspora

Korean Uruguayans, numbering 130 individuals, formed the 19th-largest Korean community in Latin America as of 2005, according to the statistics of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.[1]

Migration history

The first Korean immigrants to Uruguay were ten families, totalling 45 persons, admitted in March 1975 to work in the agricultural sector. However, most of them later emigrated to Argentina and Paraguay.[2] Since 1980, a total of 140 Koreans have naturalised as Uruguayan citizens, although many are not resident in the country any longer. The population is transient and fluctuates in size; the peak months of Korean presence in Uruguay are June, July, November and December.[3]


Most Koreans live in and around Montevideo, where some work as fishermen, while others are involved in the textile industry.[2] The fishermen are almost all from Busan; they earn between US$1,000 and US$1,500 a month, while the engineers on their boats receive US$3,000-4,000 and the captain may make as much as US$6,000.[3] The fishermen often work in dangerous conditions and face language barriers.[4] In February 2007, three Korean fishermen were killed in an explosion on board a fishing boat, along with their Vietnamese colleague.[5] There are several Korean-run restaurants and noraebang (karaoke bars) in Montevideo. As of 2013, there are 15 South Korean citizens registered in the Uruguayan social security.[6]


South Korean missionaries of the Church of the Brethren, a Protestant denomination, have been evangelising among Korean fishermen in Uruguay for almost 20 years. One of their earliest converts from among the fishermen, Simon Lee, eventually left the fishing industry to devote himself to religious work; in 2004, he and ten others established a Korean church in Montevideo, which also aimed to serve fishermen from other Asian countries as well.[4]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ 재외동포현황 - 유럽 (Status of overseas compatriots - Europe), Overseas Korean Foundation, 2005, archived from the original on 2006-02-12, retrieved 2008-09-10
  2. ^ a b "¿Cómo vive la comunidad asiática en Uruguay?", 810 Espectador, Uruguay, May 10, 2007, retrieved 2008-09-20
  3. ^ a b Farías, Gabriel; Pérez, Diego (31 January 2004), "Prohibido para uruguayos: Una botella de whisky vale 3.000 pesos. Una cerveza 90. Los uruguayos tienen prohibida la entrada. Las uruguayas no. Son las whiskerías exclusivas para coreanos.", Diario el Pais, Uruguay, retrieved 2008-09-20
  4. ^ a b Barquet, Paula (12 July 2008), "Con Dios en cada puerto: Entre junio y julio, cientos de obreros de la pesca asiáticos llegan a Montevideo, y aunque cumplen con la tradición de recorrer los bares y protagonizar alguna que otra trifulca, muchos prefieren pasar el rato en una iglesia coreana que se instaló en Uruguay sólo para recibirlos.", Diario el Pais, Uruguay, retrieved 2008-09-20
  5. ^ Bak, Min-hui (15 February 2007), "우루과이서 원양어선 폭발…한국인 3명 사망", The Hankyoreh, South Korea, retrieved 2008-09-20
  6. ^ "Foreign workers in Uruguay" (in Spanish). EL PAIS. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.