BUSAN, Jan. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – Flowers – once common as welcoming or departing gifts, or congratulatory presents – were scarcely seen at a Busan government office on Monday, despite it being the peak season for promotions and office transfers.
According to flower farms in the region, the typical end-of-year or early-year reorganization period for government offices used to be one of the busiest times for the industry.
Considering 85 percent of total flower consumption comes from congratulatory events or funerals, this should have been the time for farms to see greater demand for their plants.
However, with the introduction of the anti-graft law, which took effect last October, the tradition of sending flowers as a sign of gratitude or best wishes has quickly faded.
The law prohibits public servants from accepting gifts exceeding 50,000 won ($41.54), and while there are flower gift packages that come at lower prices, officials are seemingly refraining from attracting unnecessary attention by giving or receiving physical presents. Instead, letters and smartphone messages have taken their place.
“In any other year, I would have received piles of flower pots and bouquets that I wouldn’t know what to do with,” said a government employee who had just been promoted. “But this year, things are very different with the anti-graft law, on top of the current state of affairs. I did get a lot of text messages from friends and family, though.”
The bigger problem for flower businesses is that this social change is not limited to government offices.
Busan Bank, for instance, saw an 80 percent decline in flower delivery to its offices, despite the promotion of over 100 of its high-level employees. Although the bank has been discouraging the giving of flowers since last year, the change was particularly noticeable this year, officials said.
“(The flower industry) is suffering the most compared to other industries from the introduction of anti-graft law,” said an official from a Busan-South Gyeongsang floriculture cooperative. “We have near-zero demand for flowers for the year-end and New Year’s, and our sales dropped by more than half.”
By Kevin Lee (email@example.com)