ISSN : 0023-3900
Since the start of Korean migration to Argentina in the 1960s, ethnic Koreans in Argentina have been intensively involved in the garment industry. Compared to previous decades, when Korean entrepreneurs made rapid and notable progress in the industry, in recent decades Koreans have remained in the semiformal Avellaneda Avenue wholesale market instead of moving up to the larger, more competitive formal market segment. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Argentina, this research aims to explore why large-scale Korean wholesale garment businesses that have the capacity to expand into the formal market prefer to remain in the semiformal market, and how informal business practices have influenced these businesses’ long-term development. While these informal practices have been shaped within an environment of loose government control and rampant corruption in the sector, the decision to maintain semiformal operations is a contextual response to the complex social, economic, and political circumstances of a developing country in the Global South. The research findings further suggest that informal business practices seem likely to be the critical factor in the development of Korean garment businesses, even as these practices block entry into the larger mainstream market and constrain their future growth.