For a taste of first bloodThe unimaginable happens: another war. North Korea makes good on its threat to turn Seoul into an urban bonfire. The casualties number into the millions. Or “countless,” as is fashionable to say these days.
Luckily, though, you survive, because you live in Itaewon, which the Dear Leader decided to spare because he heard about the countless hot Russian girls here. And you silently thank your kinky girlfriend ― she asked you to pick up duct tape, so you were able to seal off your apartment from the poisonous gases fuming through town.
What’s next? After a couple of days, the gas clears, but then the North Korean soldiers show up. They’re perfunctorily putting bullets in the heads of all foreigners, save Anna Kournikova look-alikes. Then they’re at your door.
Terrified, you look for something to defend yourself with. Where’s that blonde wig?
Kaboom. Your floor gets a new, deep red paint job.
If you had a gun, say an Uzi, it would have been different. You would have gone up to the mosque and sniped down at the soldiers from one of the minarets. Sure, the soldiers would have taken you out with a rocket-propelled grenade. But you would have died on holy ground, which would have given you a strong case in the afterlife for the 72-virgin package that martyrs for Islam are entitled to.
But you won’t have an Uzi, because Korea is a gun-free society. And thank God for that ― imagine those loony Christians here shouldering assault weapons instead of crosses?
But you could try to fool the soldiers with a real-looking toy gun. You can buy all kinds of them ― handguns, automatic rifles, RPG launchers ― in Itaewon, at a little booth of a shop, Rambo Academy, in front of Korea Exchange Bank.
The weaponry sold at Rambo Academy does fire, in fact. The guns are used for survival games ― you know, when you go in the woods with your buddies for a day and come back looking like a Jackson Pollock canvas. But the guns at Rambo Academy shoot plastic BBs instead of paintballs.
But the North Koreans won’t know that. The verisimilitude of the pistols, M16s and AK-47s in the shop is uncanny. Plastic never looked so much like stopping power.
The top gun at the shop, Kim Hyung-min, is a man of few words. But don’t let that fool you; he speaks very good English. Approach him at his counter and he’ll be oblivious to your presence. We got his attention and asked him about his target customers.
“Koreans and foreigners, 50-50,” he said.
Foreigners from where?
“Most from the U.S., others from Europe,” he said.
Mr. Kim says everybody is welcome to join in the gun play at the survival games, held out at spots on the fringes of Seoul.
Some of the guns are very cheap, others will put a hole in your wallet. A cheap Glock pistol goes for 10,000 won; an M16 180,000 won.
That’s not bad, considering that an Anna Kournikova disguise ― wig, tennis outfit, racket ― would set you back about 300,000 won ($246).
Pay your money, take your chances.
by Mike Ferrin