|Francisco Gonzalez, charge d'affaires at the Embassy of Colombia in Korea, speaks during the 'Flowers of Colombia' event at Tra di Noi in southern Seoul, Nov. 17. Courtesy of Embassy of Colombia in Korea|
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Asocolflores, or the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, held the "Flowers of Colombia" week in Korea, introducing a wide variety of flowers from the South American country last week, bridging 12 Colombian flower exporters and over 50 buyers in Korea.
Colombia is the world's second-largest flower-exporting country with more than 1,400 varieties of flowers produced all year round. The Latin American country exported over 1,400 tons of flowers to Korea in the first eight months of this year, becoming the country's largest flower supplier.
Francisco Gonzalez, charge d'affaires at the Embassy of Colombia in Korea, welcomed the delegation of flower exporters, who flew over 15,000 kilometers to bring their flowers to Korea.
"When Koreans buy Colombian flowers, they create 200,000 jobs in Colombia, which contributes to better education and life of Colombians," Gonzalez said during the Flowers of Colombia event in southern Seoul, Nov. 17.
"Colombian flower farms are 100 percent sustainable businesses without child exploitation or environmental disruption."
Shirley Vega, director of ProColombia Korea, said Colombians consider flowers as part of their daily life, whereas Koreans still think of flowers only for special occasions.
"When I arrived in Korea 13 years ago, it was difficult to find flowers on the street. When I purchased a bunch of flowers for me, my Korean friends would ask me whether my boyfriend gave it to me," Vega said.
"However in Colombia, people buy flowers to decorate their house or start a good day, not just for special occasions. I hope more Koreans will enjoy flowers in their daily life whether they are happy or sad."
|Shirley Vega, second from right, director of ProColombia Korea, introduces Colombian flowers to Korean importers during the 'Flowers of Colombia' event at Tra di Noi in southern Seoul, Nov. 17. Courtesy of Embassy of Colombia in Korea|
An official from Asocoflores noted that carnations, roses and hydrangeas are the most popular exported varieties of Colombian flowers to Korea.
"We organized today's event to showcase diversity and quality of Colombian flowers to Koreans. You can experience various flowers of Colombia such as alstroemeria and protea as well," she said.
Tatiana De German-Ribon, a third-generation manager at the Colombian flower brand Flores la Conchita, said her company's major products include alstromerias, carnations and callas.
German-Ribon said that being located near the equator, Colombia gets 12 hours of sunshine all year round, resulting in good production of flowers throughout the year.
She said the visit to Korea made her better understand the market here.
"It has been very interesting to me because with visiting the market you can tell how much Koreans appreciate flowers. Korea is a very dynamic market," German-Ribon said.
"There is a new generation emerging and I think it is a very good opportunity because importers can start offering new varieties to the market that always wants change and something new. I feel that florists always want to stand out and one of the main ways to do it with different types of flowers."
Korean florist Lee Ji-hye, who demonstrated making a bouquet with exotic proteas and alstroemerias, echoed the idea. Lee said Colombian flowers are large and have strong stems in general, making them suitable for large-scale flower arrangements.
"I do a lot of flower decorations for weddings and use Colombian carnations, roses and hydrangeas every week. I think I will use more alstroemerias from now on as they come in a wide range of colors," Lee said.