Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A blacksmith who began making traditional gardening tools at age 14 has become an Amazon success story in his native South Korea.
Seok No-gi, 67, creator of the Youngju Daejanggan Master Homi, an Amazon's Choice product in the gardening hoe section, recently made the top 10 list on the site's horticulture category, Seoul Economic Daily reported Tuesday.
The ranking boosted sales of the traditional Korean gardening hoe. Seok said he was able to sell 2,000 hoes in a short period of time when his product made the top 10 list, according to the report.
Seok's handmade tool, the homi, has a five-star rating and nearly 300 reviews. The hoe could be a sought-after item among customers. Reviewers on the product page suggest the tool, which resembles a miniature scythe, is effective at removing hard-to-pull weeds. The tool works as a "plow, [weed-puller], pick and hoe."
The sales success of the homi could be a windfall for Seok, who said he is of humble background.
Seok told the South Korean newspaper he began his business as a teenager, operating his blacksmith shop in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, for 54 years.
"I built these tools with my own bare hands, without inheriting anything from my parents," Seok said. He said his handiwork made him enough money to send his three children to university.
"Others [in Korea] may consider blacksmithing a low-status occupation," Seok said. "But I take great pride in my work; I do not feel the slightest bit inferior" to others.
Seok's Amazon success story is making waves in South Korean media at a time when Seoul wants to help local small businesses sell their products on Amazon and other popular online malls overseas, JoongAng Daily reported Monday. The coronavirus pandemic has spurred the initiative.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said small and medium-size firms have shrunk but online overseas sales have more than doubled. Hong said Seoul will use the distribution networks of large South Korean companies to help smaller firms struggling amid the global health crisis.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Youngju Daejanggan Master Homi had nearly 400 reviews.