Shop for a splash of color amid winter’s icy last gasp

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Shop for a splash of color amid winter’s icy last gasp

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Customers walk through the potted flower area of the Yangjae Flower Market in southern Seoul. [YONHAP]

When words escape us, flowers speak.

We send a dozen red roses to show our fervent love, or a purple hyacinth to say sorry. If we’re lucky, the feelings they evoke last far longer than the flowers’ short life span.

And after braving winter’s cold days and long nights, we can look forward to the return of fresh flowers to shop shelves in preparation for the spring months.

According to the Yangjae Flower Market, the biggest flower market in Korea, 47 percent of the year’s flowers are sold between February and May, which means the flower season has already begun.

Fresh flowers or potted ones can be quite expensive especially in years like this one, when severe cold persists longer than usual. But several flower markets in Seoul are offering cheap and fresh flowers.

Yangjae Flower Market

The Yangjae Flower Market, located in Seocho District, southern Seoul, is Korea’s largest flower market in terms of sales. The market is divided into four areas: auction, potted flowers, fresh cut flowers and floral supplies.

As soon as February hits, the market gets jam-packed with people buying color for school entrance or graduation ceremonies.

Yangjae Flower Market is also renowned for its auction scene in the wholesale section. Auctioning takes place every day, at 1 a.m. for fresh cut flowers and 8 a.m. for their potted brethren.

The average price of roses at Yangjae is approximately the same as it was last year - 4,800 won ($4.19) for a bundle of 10. The number of flowers in a bundle differs depending on the type, following standards set by the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service.

Other varieties, however, are much more expensive. The average price of gerberas has more than doubled to around 3,300 won a bouquet, for example.

Most regular consumers won’t be shouting out bids at the wholesale auction, but there’s a very large retail section for both fresh flowers and potted ones. It opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. Two separate sections for potted flowers open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. On Sundays, only half of the stores in the retail and potted flower sections are open at a time. The wholesale section opens at 1 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m., so if you’re looking to buy in bulk at low prices, for an event, perhaps, go early.

For more information on the Yangjae Flower Market, call (02) 579-8100 or visit their Web site, www.yfmc.co.kr.

Gangnam Flower Market

If you’ve ever taken an inter-city bus from Seoul you’ve probably passed the Gangnam Flower Market, located at the Express Bus Terminal in Banpo-dong. It consists of up to 340 flower shops on the third floor of the terminal.

Since all the shops are on one floor, it’s easier to shop and compare prices here than at the sprawling Yangjae emporium.

People who visit this market are mostly private florists in Seoul, though some come up from Daegu. Only 5 percent of visitors are regular consumers. The hours - 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. - reflect that, geared to florists who need to make purchases before their shops open.

The market is closed on Sundays.

For more information, call (02) 535-2218.

Namdaemun Flower Market

If you live north of the river, the Namdaemun Flower Market located in central Seoul is a good bet. Taking up the third floor of Daedo Arcade at the center of Namdaemun Market, this is one of Korea’s oldest flower markets with a history dating back to the 1960s.

About 120 flower shops are located here, and the market is open from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m on Mondays to Thursdays with hours extended to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

For more information, call (02) 777-1709.


By Yim Seung-hye Contributing writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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