For as long as I have lived and worked in Korea I have often seen many Koreans foraging for nuts and other edible plants along side of roads and highways, in parks, and even on university campuses.

We do the same back in the States when it comes to hunting for mushrooms in wooded areas but not in public areas (imagine everyone going mushroom hunting in a state park—two years ago some Koreans in Illinois got busted for illegally picking ginseng from Starved Rock State Park). It just might seem a little strange for foreigners who haven’t been in Korea too long to see people picking up, say fallen gingko nuts on the streets of major cities like Seoul or Daejeon.

Strange or not, three Korean women recently took this foraging to a new level by turning it into a lucrative operation—that is until they got busted this week.

The Korea Times reported that three women in their 30s were booked for picking gingko nuts from trees on public roads.

According to the article, “collecting already-fallen gingko nuts from the streets is permissible but picking them from the trees on the sides of roads constitutes theft. The women tried to pick the nuts by shaking the trees using poles. Yeondeungpo Police Station said 39-year-old Kim and two others collected about 20 kilograms of gingko nuts from streets in the region on Sept. 26.

Police said regional district officials had warned them against picking the nuts from the trees, but they continued to do so. The regional district office has ownership of the trees.

According to a police officer, gingko nuts are worth 50,000-60,000 won ($42-52) per kilogram on the market and could obviously be counted as a product. The offenders were not simply picking up things from the floor but were obviously stealing and should be punished, the police officer said.”

That’s a lot of nuts they gathered from shaking the trees. Looks like these three ladies had quite the operation going if they were able to collect 20 kilos of nuts. Wonder if some people were just a little jealous about this operation and ratted on them to local police?