Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buying Real Christmas Trees in Korea: It's not worth the effort

Here's the question:
Do you have any clue where I can buy a real Christmas tree? I've asked all my co-workers and they have no idea. I live in Suwon. Where can I go???
Man, this question never seems to go away.  Before I even begin, let me start with a quote from one of my old pals who lived in Korea for nearly six years. I was chatting with him about this online.
Me: I'm looking for real trees in the Gyeonggi area. It's a brutal search.
Him: Real Korea? Army base?
Me: That's about all I can think of, too.
Him: If you find a place and its owned by a Korean make sure to congratulate him for me on having the most useless business imaginable.
As cynical as it sounds, it's true. Koreans aren't into real Christmas trees at this point and opening a business for it just wouldn't be that lucrative. In other words, there aren't many tree lots opening in the parking lot of Kim's Club or Home Plus. And even if there were, the fire codes in most Korean apartments and villas would prohibit such decorations. Besides, why would Korea need real stuff when they're a leading manufacturer of the fake ones? 

Option one is finding a Korean tree farm. They do exist. A thread on Dave's mentioned a site called, but unless you've got some Korean language skills or a friend willing to do a lot of leg work then I'd suggest you try another route. Chances are that you won't want to invest the time.

Your next bet is to look online and find a company that delivers to Korea. I found this one, but you'll have to contact them for a quote.  There are plenty more out there. Snoop.

You could also try finding a connection within the US military. Yongsan, Humphreys and Osan all have trees for sale on site, but getting on the base and getting the tree out is a challenge in and of itself. Remember, military personal all have ration control cards that prevents them from doing an awful lot with the products they purchase. If you have a friend with a car on one of those bases, then that's your ticket. Don't count on it, though.

Your last bet is a little risky and pretty damn stupid, but if you're really desperate then I'd suggest heading to a sleepy piece of forest and pulling a Clark Griswold. 

Don't do that. 

Chances are that after an hour or two of searching and calling your Korean buddies or friend who has a friend on Yongsan, you'll get tired and start looking for a fake one. Gone Seoul Searching tried the same thing and ended up at Daiso instead, but since there are endless places to find fake trees, there's no need to discuss that.

I know it's frustrating, but luckily after you return home to your respective nation you can rest easy knowing that the Frasier fir you're admiring probably was a native species of Korea. If you think the widely criticized Korea Times article was obnoxious, just type in "아비에스 코리아나" into Naver or Daum for pages of endless nationalism on full display.


gone seoul searching said...

I totally agree. Finding a real tree this Christmas is not work the effort. That's why I settled with a fake one from Diaso! For only 3,000 won you just can't go wrong!

Bethany said...

We had a Real Tree the first year we were here... the boy scouts sold them on the army base. Seemed like a great idea at the time, so we bought one. They deliver them the last week of november, and you have to go pick them up. Heated floors are a christmas trees worst enemy!! They are ready to be tossed out the first week of december. Biggest let down ever. Not worth the hassle.

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