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(News Focus) Korean immigration to Brazil marks 50th anniversary

All News 15:43 January 03, 2013

SAO PAULO, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- Fifty years later, Kim Young-jong still remembers the bitter cold when he left the South Korean port of Busan and exotic views at the Brazilian port of Santos where he arrived with an immigration visa after a two-month-long journey.

The 67-year-old Kim was among 103 South Korean people who first emigrated to Brazil in February 1963 as the Korean immigration to the Latin American country was formalized a year earlier.

"The moment when I left the Busan port with my parents is still fresh in my memory, but 50 years has passed," Kim told Yonhap News Agency in an interview.

South Korea encouraged its people to emigrate to Brazil and other nations in South America by passing a law on overseas emigration in 1962.

Currently, the number of ethnic Koreans living in Brazil stands at some 50,000 people, marking the success of the immigration policy and helping strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations.

"Korean people have built one of the leading community groups in Brazil and our community will become a strong and dynamic ethnic group here," Kim said.

Choi Keum-jwa, a professor at Hankook University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, told an academic forum in Seoul last month that, "Our country's immigration policy to Brazil is one of the successful examples in the world."

In particular, ethnic Koreans in Brazil have helped the two nations increase trade, Choi said.

According to a report by the Korea International Trade Association, Korean products' market share in the Latin American country accounted for 4.5 percent in 2011, up from 2.8 percent in 2007.

The near-term outlook for bilateral trade with Brazil is bright as the South American country is due to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, the association said.

Last May, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan made an official visit to Brazil and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the economy, trade and industry.

Kim also exchanged views with senior Brazilian officials on cooperation in science, technology and agriculture, ministry officials said.

In particular, Kim called for the Brazilian government's special interest and support to some 50,000 Koreans living in Brazil on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Koreans' immigration to Brazil, officials said.

"Kim's visit to Brazil, the first official visit in 17 years by a South Korean foreign minister, served to provide momentum to expand and deepen bilateral relations in a substantial way in a wide range of areas," a ministry official said.

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