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'The Korean government responded [to the crisis] by taking bold, pre-emptive measures, which have turned out to be conducive to mitigating the economic downturn and creating jobs,' says South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Reuters

As the global recession played out, South Korea and Canada exhibited both shocking similarities and striking differences. The two countries are:

Similar…

Both weathered the downturn

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South Korea was the first wealthy country to emerge from the recession when its GDP growth hit 3.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2009; Canada was the first G8 country to raise interest rates.

Both spent billions on a stimulus package

South Korea spent $11-billion (U.S.); Canada shelled out $30-billion.

Both survived the economic turmoil in better shape than a major neighbour

Economists forecast that Korea's economy will expand by 5.8 per cent this year, while Japan's economic growth remains anemic. In Canada, key sectors such as real estate and manufacturing have rebounded while they remain suppressed south of the border.

Both are export nations

South Korea exported over U.S.$355-billion worth of goods last year, the 9th most in the world; Canada exported U.S.$299-billion worth of goods, 12th most in the world.

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… but different

They strive in different industries

South Korea specializes in telecommunications, computers, and semiconductors; Canada is known for its natural resources, including crude, timber, and natural gas.

They have opposing employment pictures

South Korea's unemployment rate is a shocking 3.2%; Canada's is much higher at 8.1%.

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They rely on different trading partners

21.5 per cent of South Korea's 2008 exports went to China, followed by 10.9 per cent to the U.S.; 77.7 per cent of Canada's went to the U.S.

They have drastically different public debt levels

South Korea has a debt-to-GDP ratio around 30 per cent; Canada's hovers around 70 per cent.

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