It is a truism that every crisis is also an opportunity, and South Korea used the financial panic of 2008 as a means to solidify its status as one of the world’s leading economies. While the won, South Korea’s currency, took a pounding in 2009, this only buttressed the country’s export and tourism markets, which powered the nation back to solid growth in 2010. All the while, the world’s 15th largest economy has maintained low budget deficits and government debt. Of course, it is not immune to the same headwinds that other mature economies face. South Korea is rapidly aging, which will put pressure on government budgets going forward. It is also dominated by a few large conglomerates like the world-famous Samsung, which are dealing with high debt levels and must prove their ability to innovate as world markets continue to become more competitive.
Total Debt as a percentage of GDP: 314%
Nonfinancial Corporations: 107%
Financial Institutions: 93%