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South Korea

Of the 15 largest world economies, South Korea ranks 15th. But at 3.3%, its $1.1 trillion economy is growing at a faster annual rate than all countries in the group except for India (4.8%) and China (7.8%). The South Korean economy is characterized by manufacturing and technological innovation, a trait it shares with the United States. With each passing year, South Korea marks a transition from regional dynamo to global powerhouse. Brands such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and Kia are household names and account for billions of the country's output. South Korea just marked its fastest quarter over quarterly growth in two years, as GDP grew 3.3%.

Surprisingly, South Korea has one of the older populations among leading industrial nations, at a median age of 39.7 years. While its population is not as aged as Germany's or Japan's (each near 46.0 median age), it doesn't have the youth of the U.S. or China (37.2 and 36.3 median age, respectively). The aging of the South Korean population represents a medium-term growth risk in an otherwise healthy economy.

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