A notorious international succulent thief is headed to trial in California

Korean farmer Byungsu Kim is behind bars in California for crimes against nature—he stands accused of stealing upward of 120,000 succulent plants from public lands in the West Coast, then smuggling them back home. Kim claims he was simply ignorant of American laws. But considering the sheer scope of his operation—dating all the way back to 2013—law enforcement officials are treating his claims with a sharply raised eyebrow. Kim’s arrest was the product of a collaboration between state fish and wildlife officials and tips from naturalist do-gooders who spied Kim and associates scooping up plants from California public parks. His main target appeared to be a fetching little number called the dudleya, which experts described as “charismatic” to humans, whatever that means. Lois Beckett, who wrote about Kim for The Guardian, penned a crafty bit of journalistic prose in describing the dudleya’s appeal: “They boast the precise mix of qualities that Americans demand from crime victims: they are pretty and small, very fragile and yet curiously resilient.” Put it on your dating profile, little succulent. —Jesse Hirsch