Often described as "the Rolls Royce of chalk," Hagoromo once faced extinction in 2015, but the brand managed to survive after a former cram school teacher in South Korea took it over, importing the manufacturing know-how and equipment from Japan.

In a factory in Pocheon, about 50 km from Seoul, 15 employees work tirelessly to produce the chalk with "Hagoromo" printed on the side of each piece.

"Orders from China are so large that our deliveries are getting delayed, and it's not like we can upgrade the machines to produce more as they're the exact machines that were brought over from Japan," said Shin Hyeong-seok, CEO of Sejongmall Co., now the sole producer of Hagoromo.