Despite a global economic downturn that many economists are blaming on a combination of
factors, including fluctuating energy prices, the newly elected South Korean government is
making waves by laying the blame squarely on the US. "Years of irresponsible financial
practices have led the world to this point," said Chang Sung-taek, Korea's Minister of
Finance. "Wall Street has stolen the Korea's hard earned money in the casino floor of exotic
derivatives and other financial scams."

Many in the United States, however, do not share this opinion. "It's clear that the
complicated and stressful process of re-integrating millions of poor, unskilled North Koreans
into the regional economy has had a significant depressive effect on the South Korean
economy," replied Princeton economist Saul Harris. Some critics in Seoul have even gone so
far as to suggest that the US/South Korea military alliance has lost its value, and that the US
military presence in the country is no longer needed.

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