The Korean economy was a testbed of modernization in the 20th century . . . and it has been a success story. From being one of the poorest countries in the world with a history of cruel colonization by the Japanese followed by peninsular division and a three-year international war, the Republic of Korea has become one of the most successful examples of modern economic growth. There have been a few crises but Korea now has a GNP per capita of over $20,000 and competes with advanced industrial nations in sectors such as shipbuilding, semiconductor chips, automobiles, and iron and steel manufacturing.