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Korean Swords

Korea's most famous sword manufacturers

Korean Sword History
Korea's most famous sword manufacturers
Other Korean Swordsmiths and Manufacturers
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Korean Sword Anatomy
Interviews with experts

I haven't finished researching this section yet.  However, I can confidently say that Han Jong Chil and Lee Seok Je are two of Korea's most famous sword manufacturers at this time.  I will be updating this section as the research unfolds...

Han Jong Chil - friendly guy
Maker of swords for the Presidents

Korean Sword Manufacturer

Han Jong-Chil: Swords for the Presidents



Demonstrating the great significance of swords in Korean culture, upon promotion to general or admiral, the President of Korea awards to the officer a sword.  This tradition dates far back in Korean history.  Once upon a time, Korean kings awarded a sword to top commanders.  This tradition was discontinued upon the demise of the monarchy in the early part of the 20th Century.  It was revived in1983 during the reign of President Chun Do-Hwan.


Since 1983 these swords have been slightly curved, similar to a Japanese sword.  As of next year, however, (January 1, 2007) newly promoted Korean Generals will be awarded a straight double edged sword - a more traditional Korean design.  When a general is promoted to three stars, he gets a red ribbon attached to the sword.  On one side of the ribbon is written “the President of the Republic of Korea,” on the other side is written the officer’s position in the army.  The same things apply for navy admirals.  The swords apparently cost about 2,000,000 won. 


In 1995, the company that made swords for the Korean army Generals went out of business and the contract was awarded to Mr. Han Jong Chil owner of a company called Hanguk Dokum ( ) located near Seoul in a city called Siheung.


Han Jong-Chil

Holding a 3rd t Dan rank in Hapkido, a 3rd Dan rank in Taehan Kumdo, and a 1st Dan in Hedong Kumdo, Han Jong-Chil is a maverick amongst Korean sword craftsmen.  He said practicing Kumdo one day, he “felt ancient things about the sword.  It drew me.  It started as a hobby, and only later turned into a job.”


Han Jong-Chil started his sword business back in 1986 having studied under the renowned Master Yeon-In-Moon, who in turn was trained by the legendary Jeong In-Cho in Seoul.  In addition he went to Japan many times to see swords.  In Japan, he saw that Japanese swords are made by a number of people, each making only a part of the sword, whereas in Korea the work is more consolidated.  The Japanese were impressed that in Korea one person could do so many different tasks.  One curious difference between Korean and Japanese sword making methodology involves the difference between “folding” and “spreading” the metal. “While Japanese fold, the Korean way is to spread the metal,” he said.


Like all masters of an art, he has gone beyond his teachers, making creative innovations in the crafting of his swords.  For example, the hilt is bolted at the bottom (base), rather that held on with pins going through it.  This is a unique design feature of Han Jong-Chil’s swords.


In past years the curved swords he made for Korean Generals (and Admirals) were called “Sam Jeongdo.” 


According to a brochure on the Sam Jeongdo:


"The Sam-Jung-Do saber represents the spirit of the Army, Navy and Air Force which has three goals to achieve: National Defense, Unification and Prosperity of the Fatherland."  It is 100 cm. in length.  The hilt is 25 cm long and consists of basswood covered with sharkskin.  The blade is 73 cm long, 3.2 cm. wide, .7 cm. thick and made of forged steel.


External decorations of the saber represent the classic Korean spirit as follows:


* Tae-geuk (The Great Absolute). The entity of the cosmos or the source of the highest principles of the yin and Yang, the negative and the positive, or the passive and the active.


* Jook (Bamboo) Symbol of integrity and constant loyalty.


* Yong (Dragon) Symbol of the guardian of the state and the suppressor of commotion and war.


* Bong-hwang (Phoenix) An imaginary bird believed to be a good omen, the shape of which is also used as the presidential emblem.


* Tang-cho (Herb of Chinese “Tang” dynasty) Korea’s traditional decoration pattern.


* Mu-Kung-hwa- (Rose of Sharon) The Korean national flower signifying everlasting progress.


* Sang-o-pi (Sharkskin) traditionally used to ornament sabers.


The brochure that goes with the Generals sword also says it needs to be cleaned every week (2 or three times a week during rainy season), and every time it’s removed from the scabbard. 


Starting next year a new sword will be presented to the Generals called “San Jeong Kum.”  (Swords that end with the word “do” are single edged weapons.  Double edged swords are called “kum.”)   Officers are promoted to General in the Korean army on January 1, and July 1. 


He gets stainless steel for his swords from a variety of sources, including Korea, Japan, Germany, and Australia.  Two companies he mentioned were “Sam-mi and Hidachi.”


Asked about his quenching procedure, he said that he uses oil specially produced for that task.  He wouldn’t be more specific.  Masters all have their trade secrets! 


He also makes other swords.  For example, he makes: Pyong-Jo sword (called “Samgakdo” in Korean) used by Hedong Kumdo people for cutting rice straw, a “Go-Jo” (called “Yuk-kakdo” in Korean) used for slicing through bamboo trees, and an even heavier bladed weapon called Hom, that looked like it could cut through just about anything.


In addition to that he makes a variety of other swords, filling requests for a wide variety of customers.  One straight sword he had in his inventory was made for some Kuk-sul (Korean martial art) practitioners in the U.S.


Han Jong-Chil also repairs swords of all kinds, even some very old ones, for customers. 


He reported that he has 10 people working for him in his manufacturing plant. 


Asked if Korean swordsmiths and manufacturers had an association of some kind, he responded in the negative.  Asked why, he said that they were “very competitive.”  Han Jong-Chil does speak a little English.


His wife and daughter participated in the above interview.  Asked if she was going to continue in her father’s footsteps and create a dynasty of sword-makers, his daughter said “no.”  A talented 19 year old singer and dancer she intends to be a performing artist.  She is currently training with one of Korea’s most popular female pop stars.  In addition, her English is near fluent and she did most of the translating for this interview.  Han Jong-Chil’s wife said that if were up to her, he’d just retire from the company now!  He laughed at this and said he’d “thought about it.”  Han Jong-Chil is 59, but looks about 15 years younger. 


Altogether they were delightful hosts for this interview.


The internet address for the “Korea Sword Company” is


Their street address is 418-35 Daeya-Dong, Siheung City, Kyunggi Do, South Korea

Tel: 031-3180-223, 031—3180-224 & 312-0316

Mobile: 011-259-8336

Fax: (031) 312-0317



Story by Gregory C. Brundage and Kim Dammers - Interview date: June 4, 2006


Outside the sword gallery of Lee Seok Je

Lee Seok-Je and “Sword Art” Company


I visited Lee Seok-Je’s awesome sword museum/art gallery June 10th 2006.  Unfortunately, it was pouring rain and he wasn’t there.  So, I’ll try to go back after final exams sometime in early July.


I did get to look around a little bit and talk with the manager Kim Ki-Hwan.


What I learned is this:


* Lee Seok-Je has one of the finest private sword collections in Korea.

* He is one of Korea’s foremost authorities on sword history in Korea and has done a considerable amount of scholarly research about Korean sword history and crafting.  He is also a consultant for the Military Museum in Seoul as well as the National Museum.

* He owns a large sword museum and shop called: “Sword Art” in fashionable downtown Seoul, in a particularly upscale neighborhood called Insadong where there is also a large traditional tea shop, which he also owns.

* He also appears to own a factory in Shanghai, China where most of his sword parts are made.  Some assembly is done here in Korea.  He has absolute control over design and quality of the swords he makes. 

* Lee Seok-Je is a perfectionist with very, very high standards.  He cannot and will not settle for something that is not perfect.

* The museum, shop and tea house are open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm.

Lee Seok-Je started collecting swords some 20 years ago, and opened his business in February 2003.














Address:        30-1 Guanhun-Dong,

                        Jongro-Gu, Seoul 110-300

                        South Korea


Tel:                  (82) 02-733-4452

Fax:                 (82) 02-733-4450




Swords by Han Jong Chil
Pyong-Jo, Go-Jo and Hom Swords

One thing almost all Korean swordsmiths mentioned was:
"Korean swords are unlike other swords.  They are made only for protection, not attack."