The Korean Diaspora Project: Koreans in Paraguay

Despite its comparatively small size and limited economic opportunities, Paraguay was an important port of call for Korean migration to South America. In fact, in many cases Paraguay was a temporary stop for Koreans who wanted to move to other nearby countries, like Brazil and Argentina. Paraguay, though not as desirable a destination, was nonetheless seen as a gateway to other openings in the region, as it was easier to obtain visas and immigrant status. Following a series of visa restrictions in Brazil during the late 1960’s, for instance, several Koreans would travel to Paraguay to then enter Brazil as illegal immigrants. As a result, in an attempt to address these concerns, the Brazilian government agreed to provide an amnesty that granted legal residency to one thousand Koreans. This was an example, however, of a trend that would continue: In the 1970’s and 1980’s, more than 100,000 Koreans immigrated to Paraguay, many of whom then later settled elsewhere on the continent.  

The first group of Korean immigrants arrived in Paraguay shortly after the first formal relations between the two countries were established in 1962. In the April 1965, a group of 95 Korean immigrants traveled to Asuncion on a boat from Busan, called the “Boissevain”; shortly thereafter, in that same year, a further group of 1,200 immigrants arrived. As it was the case in other Latin American countries, the Korean immigrants were expected to work in agriculture, but many eventually moved to urban areas and engage in a variety of commercial work, like maintaining small businesses. Although the Paraguayan Korean migrant population may pale in terms of size and influence to those in Brazil and Argentina, the story of its creation and development is crucial in understanding the other Korean settlements.  

This research fellowship aims to trace the trials and tribulations of these early Korean migrants to Paraguay, and how their stories can shed light on other Korean populations in neighboring South American countries.  Our main goal is to (1) collect, archive and preserve the stories of the first Korean migrants to Paraguay whose stories are at risk of being lost; and (2) disseminate and share these incredible untold stories with a large audience worldwide.

Please contact us if you are interested in pursuing or contributing to this research


Mera, Carolina. “LA DIÁSPORA COREANA EN AMÉRICA LATINA.” In Transiciones Coreanas: Permanencia Y Cambio En Corea Del Sur En El Inicio Del Siglo XXI, edited by Bonilla Juan José Ramírez, 303-34. México, D. F.: Colegio De Mexico, 2009. 

Kim, Chong-Sup, and Eunsuk Lee. “Growth and Migration to a Third Country: The Case of Korean Migrants in Latin America.” Journal of International and Area Studies23, no. 2 (2016): 77-87.  

Mera, C. (2007). Globalización e identidades migrantes. Corea y su diáspora en la Argentina. Tesis de Doctorado en Ciencias Sociales. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Asians in Latin America: 


“Korean Presence in Paraguay”–pais-360754.html

Paraguay Designates Day to Honor Korean Immigration


Korean Festival in Costanera,  Asunción

Celebrating the 53rd Anniversary of the Arrival of the First Korean Immigrants