PeopleGukje MarketPeople

Have you seen the skill of blowing knives?

Illustrious House of Knives, Owner Kim Deok-gil
Bldg. A, 1F
Illustrious House of Knives, Owner Kim Deok-gil

A 19-year-old boy picked up a knife. He spent 40 years at Gukje Market, grinding knives and sharpening scissors on the grindstone. The boy, who was a kitchenware store clerk, became the owner of a specialty knife store, and was crowded with regular customers and market merchants. That is how Illustrious House of Knives, Owner, Kim Deok-gil lived his life in the market.

Recognizing the essence of knives

Knives eventually get dull, but with time, his fingers grew sharper. Rather, his skill was accumulated over time, enough to infuse the essence of knife into ordinary blades.
"Essence of knife? Those who know knives are aware of the expression. A knife must be sharp and cut things the way I want. That way, you always want to cook. That's what I mean by the essence of a knife."
Thanks to Kim Deok-gil, those who understand the essence of a knife always return to his store to sharpen their knives. When he relocated his store to another place, some clients inquired here and there in order to find his new store. Some customers who had moved to different regions would send knives to him by express delivery.
“The customers who can't come in person send knives by parcel. Then, I sharpen them nicely and send them back by the same way. Some restaurant owners around my store are my regular customers. Knives work differently depending on how they are sharpened. I put affection into it."
Indeed. A well-sharpened cutting knife helps the user to trim materials better without hassle. People who have to use knives a lot, like restaurants and butcher shops, know the 'reward of knives'.
“I've seen a lot of people suffering from sore shoulders, wrists, and arms when working with a dull knife. Even if your knife is of low quality,, you can use it for a long time if you grind it well. But nowadays young people do not seem to know the importance of sharpening a knife. Only those who are professional chefs know about it.”
Mr. Kim grinds knives, surrounded by thousands of knives worth a thousand won to a few million won. How profound is the world of knives?

Wish to make a store of an Illustrious House

He worked as a clerk at a kitchenware store and has since owned a store for 25 years. It'd been only six years in when he opened the store. Until then, he sold kitchenware and learned the importance of knives and ultimately the value of a specialty knife shop.
“The reason I hung the signboard "Illustrious House of Knives" is because I wanted to make a store like the name serves. First, consumers must be happy when they purchased a knife from me. I want customers who purchased my knives to say 'the knife works very well', 'I think it's a really nice knife store."
When a customer chooses a knife, Mr. Kim unwraps the packaging and sharpens the knife. Since the factory sharpens only the basic blade, it doesn't work well despite it looking very sharp on the outside.
“You need to use a wet-type grinder. If you use a machine grinder, it will destroy the heat treated part. You need to sharpen the blade and surface carefully without inflicting damage. That way, you can use your knife for a long time.”
He is a heavy-duty knife expert with the conviction that he should make users of his knives feel comfortable, that his knife should be different. Although he is a knife expert heavily armed with craftsmanship, he is very different from the artisan in . There are many people around him and those people are always happy.
“I like meeting people so that I want to come to the store as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. I like to live each day, talking to my regular customers, drinking coffee with my neighbors, taking part in service for my fellows and market events. My friends, my neighbors, and my guests are at Gukje Market. The market is my home.”
Mr. Kim will sharpen knives at the Gukje Market as long as he is healthy, regardless of age. That means, he will never stop working as a knife sharpener. He laughs and says, "My two tough hands, even these scars on my fingers from sharp knives are like medals to me. Kim Deok-gil, once the 19-year-old boy, is now a master of knives.