Following the devastation of the Korean War, which ended in an armistice agreement in 1953, South Korea began the task of rebuilding and the swiftness of their economic rise has been called the Miracle on the Han River. The country's economy is the fourth largest in Asia, despite its small size. Korea's largest industries include shipbuilding, car making, and electronics manufacturing.
A note on Korean history: The first ethnic ancestors of modern Koreans appeared on the peninsula during the Neolithic period, beginning at about 8000 BC. The country went through many incarnations, until the Joseon Dynasty began in 1392, and the boundaries started to stabilize. In the late 1800's, Japan started to interfere with the Korean government, and eventually colonized the country in 1910. It was not until the defeat of Japan and the end of World War II that Korea was free of its colonizers. However, in 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to divide the country in half, at the thirty-eighth parallel, resulting in the founding of two separate countries, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea).