An entertaining match was settled by an own goal from Akmal Shorakhmedov just before halftime, the Uzbek defender heading Kim Young-gwon's cross from the right past his helpless goalkeeper.
The Koreans now have 14 points from seven matches in Group A of Asian qualifying, three clear of the Uzbeks with Iran on 10 from six games with only the top two guaranteed a place at Brazil 2014.
Iran host Lebanon later on Tuesday and a shock defeat for the home side would mean Korea qualifying ahead of their final fixture against Carlos Queiroz's side in Ulsan next week.
The Koreans had the better chances on a slick surface in Seoul on Tuesday with towering striker Kim Shin-wook causing the visitors numerous problems in the air.
A flicked header by the forward gave Asian player of the year Lee Keun-ho a fantastic chance to open the scoring in the 11th minute but the tricky forward sliced his shot hopelessly wide from six metres.
The Uzbeks also played well although they struggled in the final third, striker Ulugbek Bakayev offering their best chance with a fizzing shot from distance that was palmed away.
The Koreans always looked more likely to score and they took the lead three minutes before halftime when Kim Young-gwon cut inside on to his left foot and his inswinging cross was flicked in by Shorakhmedov at the near post.
The Uzbeks, who are at home to Qatar in their final match next Tuesday, took the game to the Koreans in the second half.
They threw on substitute forwards Aleksandr Geynrikh and Sanzhar Tursunov but were still unable to create clear-cut chances.
The Koreans comfortably held out for the three points which left them on the verge of their eight consecutive World Cup finals appearance.