As MERS recedes into the memory of hypochondriac-minded South Koreans, a new source of concern emerges with the rise of pine-tree robbers:
“‘As more apartment buildings are constructed, demand for pine trees for landscaping purposes will increase, so the general outlook is that the prices for pine trees will also increase,’ said Han Tae-ho, who heads the architectural design team for Daelim, a major Korean construction company.
The use of pine trees in landscaping is unique to Korea. Koreans tend to move into new homes in the winter, before the beginning of a new academic semester. Because pine trees are able to withstand severe cold as well as are deciduous, keeping their needles in the winter, they make for good ornamentation in colder months, when other trees have lost their leaves.
But some pine tree robbery schemes are more long term. Thieves look for more expensive pines that are still growing and then cultivate them for over a year in their original locations.
This tactic, equivalent to a planned robbery, is exactly what one 51-year-old pine tree swindler, surnamed Kim, did last spring.”
The article mentions that one stolen tree was sold off for the equivalent of 70,000 USD.
Pung-su-ji-ri, the Korean equivalent of Chinese feng-shui, is a big deal here but I know very little about it other than that the little stunted pine outside my office is supported by three different metal poles.