Since their arrival in the 1960s, Korean immigrants in Argentina have been massively involved in the garment industry. Nevertheless, despite their decades-long concentration in the same sector, over time they have reshaped their motivations and business styles throughout the twists and turns of the host country’s junctures.
Applying rigorous immigrant entrepreneurship theories, yet wary of orthodoxies, Kim examines the intriguing paths which Korean entrepreneurs have taken to develop their businesses in the Argentine garment industry amidst complex, frantically volatile social and economic circumstances, and argues for the application of a new approach that combines existing theories with historically contextual perspectives.
This unique case study on Korean immigrant entrepreneurship in Latin America represents a significant milestone in the fields of migration and Korean studies and a substantial contribution to bridging the gap between the North, where such inquiries abound, and the South, where the history, settlement, and current status of Korean immigrants have been notoriously under-examined.
Jihye Kim is lecturer of Korean studies in the School of Language and Global Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.
1. To the Farthest Country: When and Why Koreans Moved to Argentina
2. The Host Country: Argentina
3. From Agriculture to Apparel: The Entry of Koreans into the Argentine Garment Industry (1960s-1970s)
4. From Production to Distribution: Expansion of the Korean Garment Business (1980s-1990s)
5. The Korean Garment Business in Argentina Today (2000-Present)
6. Opportunities and Challenges for the Korean Garment Business
"Not only does Jihye’s book present the first in-depth study on the history, growth, and challenges of Korean entrepreneurship in the Argentine garment industry, it also offers a testament to the appropriateness and practicality of some important theories and concepts in international migration studies, such as social capital or embeddedness, ethnic and class resources, a host country’s economic policies and labor market structure, and so on. From Sweatshop to Fashion Shop will be valuable to all academics in Migration/Diaspora Studies, Latin American Studies, Korean Studies, and Asian Studies.”
"From Sweatshop to Fashion Shop: Korean Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the Argentine Garment Industry is a timely contribution to the scant literature on Korean immigration to South America. Through an in-depth examination of Korean immigrants in the garment industry in Argentina, the book offers a compelling account of the vital ethnic niche carved out by Korean Argentinians and their rapid ascent from sweatshops to wholesalers and retailers. This book is a must read for those interested in Asian immigration to Latin America and cross-national studies of the rag trade and immigrant entrepreneurship."
Surprisingly, 80 percent of Korean immigrants in Argentina are concentrated in the garment industry. Even more surprisingly, second-generation Koreans there, unlike those in the U.S., are inclined to move into their parents’ garment businesses rather than into the mainstream economy. In her book, From Sweatshop to Fashion Shop, Jihye Kim persuasively explains the unusual occupational adaptation of Korean immigrants, using the concept of ethnic embeddedness and the host society’s economic uncertainty. Drawing on her ethnographic research and personal interviews, she has provided fascinating stories throughout her book. I could not put down her book until I finished it.