Korea in Paraguay


Last week we visited Ciudad del Este (“City of the East”), which sits on Paraguay’s eastern border, close to Brazil, Argentina, and the famous Iguazu Falls. Ciudad del Este is widely recognized as Paraguay’s economic center, for both its legitimate and its not-so-legitimate business endeavors. Travel writer John Gimlette describes Ciudad del Este as “the foxiest city in the world.” He elaborates, “When it came to pumping contraband into Brazil…the movement of materials was seismic; smuggling turned over the equivalent of five times the value of the official Paraguayan economy.”

Thanks to all the economic, err, opportunities, Ciudad del Este’s population is incredibly diverse. In addition to a large Brazilian population, we saw evidence of Middle Eastern, East Asian, South Asian, and European immigration. Half of my family is Korean, so I was especially excited to find signs of Korean presence in the middle of South America. Here are some examples:

Choco-Pies in Paraguay

A heap of Korean Choco-Pies at a fancy department store in Ciudad del Este. The price tag says 40 US cents per pie.

My favorite childhood treat, Choco-Pies are a Korean version of the moon pie: marshmallow sandwiched between two cookies and then dunked in chocolate.

Soju in Ciudad del Este

The small green bottles on the right are soju. They're sharing shelf space with several big bottles of sake on the left.

Soju is an alcoholic beverage traditionally made from rice. My mom describes it as a cross between vodka and kerosene.

Shopping Bonita Kim

Shopping Bonita Kim is a huge mall in downtown Ciudad del Este. The Korean flag flies front and center.

“Bonita” means “pretty” or “cute” in Spanish; “Kim” is a ubiquitous Korean surname. The hybrid name of this giant shopping mall, as well as its location next to Madrid Center (and down the street from the Mina India mall) embodies the international flavor of Ciudad del Este. You could almost shop on six continents without ever leaving Paraguay!

One Response to “Korea in Paraguay”

  1. 1 SungChanPark

    🙂 bonita KIM!
    me fui alli una vez. ellos venden las ropas de KOREA 🙂

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