Koreans in Uruguay

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

Koreans in Uruguay, 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[edit]

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]

See also[edit]