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Cover Story South Korea: The little dynamo that sneaked up on the world

South Korea, long in the shadow of other Asian 'tiger economies,' is suddenly hip and enormously prosperous – so much so that it may have outgrown its thankless dream of reuniting with the North.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor

For months the young emperor to the north has been threatening to turn this thriving metropolis into a "sea of fire." But it's not easy to ruffle the jaunty vibe of 75-year-old Kim Chong-shik as he strolls among young couples and shoppers along the boutiques of the Gangnam District.

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