[ITAEWON WANDERINGS]To Babeslavia, with love

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[ITAEWON WANDERINGS]To Babeslavia, with love

If you're like me, you have to flip through the channels on the television before you go to bed each night, and you invariably hit on one of those home shopping channels hawking lingerie. Modeling the underwear are young, tall white women, and you begin to fantasize about ... er, wonder who they are.

Well, I have the answer. But I can't tell because the attractive young women wouldn't let me use their real names or mother countries for this article. And I don't want to get them angry. You don't want to see them when they're angry.

So we'll call them Olga, Nadia and Ivana, from, let's say Babeslavia. You can see them in Itaewon. Their Korean modeling agency puts them up in a nice apartment there, and they hang out in nightspots like Gecko's and the Hollywood Basement.

Olga and Nadia are brunettes, and push the six feet tall mark. Ivana is blonde, and a few inches nearer a normal woman's height. When you see these three walk in the door, words spring to mind, such as "svelte," "heavenly" and "hummina-hummina."

A warning: They're all pretty tough, but Ivana's the one you have to watch out for. She looks like she was trained in hand-to-hand combat. I saw her clock a guy two weeks ago at the Basement. She was dancing with the other girls and some Derek Zoolanders and Hansels on the stage there -- models can't boogie down on the dance floor like regular people, you understand. While Ivana was busy voguing, some vile expat -- probably a salesman steeped in too many self-help books telling him to be confident and persistent -- thought it charming to grab her behind. Ivana let the first cheeky infraction slide. But the fool pushed his luck and kept on grabbing. Ivana dove at him in a blur of slaps, punches and kicks. Then the poor guy was cowering on the floor with Ivana towering over him, screaming something incomprehensible. Mercifully, security swept in and took the guy away. "I got so mad," Ivana said later. "I had to kick his behind."

You can't blame Ivana and her comely comrades for being temperamental. You would be too if you had to stand all day in an unheated studio wearing just underwear that's both too small and too big at the same time.

And their agency doesn't help much. The three lovelies have to abide by an endless list of rules that come straight from the Prudence Behavewell boarding school. "Our managers treat us like children," Olga complained. "They always expect us to conform to every aspect of Korean culture and manners." She has been reprimanded sharply and threatened to be sent home for breaking one of the rules, smoking in public. Other no-nos include telling people their phone number or where they live.?And the walls of their apartment are covered with signs like: "No noise after midnight," "Wash the dishes straight after using them," and "Turn off the lights. ... did you?"

Can you meet Nadia, Olga or Ivana? Yes. Your best chance is to buddy up with one of their male friends and wangle an introduction.

But if you meet Ivana, keep your guard up.

by Mike Ferrin

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