Rumsfeld gets an inviteThough most Koreans think that Donald Rumsfeld is Satan, at least two bar girls in Itaewon would like to meet up with him. Ji-su, 21, thinks the U.S. defense chief looks “handsome, very nice.” Her co-worker Mi-kyung, who’s a little older and a little tougher to please, thinks he looks “only so-so.”
Eyeing a recent newspaper photo of Mr. Rumsfeld, who is in Seoul now to hash out matters military with his Korean counterparts, Ji-su said she thought he looked 62 years old. Mi-kyung’s guess was 57. Told that the Bush administration hawk is 70, Mi-kyung smiled and said, “Oh, my goodness! Really?”
Ji-su and Mi-kyung work at Dream Bar, which is just off Hooker Hill and across from Club XO. They are interested in Mr. Rumsfeld’s trip to Korea, but not for the same reasons that the peninsula’s college students and well-bearded priests are. That is to say, they haven’t deluded themselves that Mr. Rumsfeld wants to start a horrible war with North Korea, like, just for fun.
Instead, the girls have a problem with the ban the U.S. military here instituted a few months ago, which prohibits GIs from patronizing “juicy bars,” and calls for military policemen to inspect the blacklisted boites once or twice a night.
“He needs to stop this off-limits rule,” Mi-kyung said. “It’s really stupid and it’s really disturbing for us. The MPs come here around midnight and ask our customers, like English teachers, to show identification. It really ruins the atmosphere.”
Told that Mr. Rumsfeld wants to move the GIs out of Seoul, and that some people say he’d like to move all the troops off the peninsula to places where they wouldn’t be resented so much, Mi-kyung was blase. “That’s fine,” she said. “It doesn’t matter to me.” But Ji-su was a tad concerned. “No, that’s not a good idea,” she said. “They should stay here. We need them.”
Mr. Rumsfeld will quite likely be stressed during his time in Seoul, the women were told. People say that he hates traveling, and he’ll certainly be displeased by the “WARMONGER!” signs bearing his picture that the local college kids will be brandishing, and then burning. And even worse, he’ll have to endure more reporters from KBS, like the one who got him all testy last week at a press conference in Guam by asking a loaded question.
“Well, if he needs a place to relax, we invite him to come to our bar,” Mi-kyung said, as Ji-su nodded. “If he comes here, I’ll give him the first two or three drinks on the house. But he has to buy me a lady drink.”
That would be a Jack Daniels and Coke for Mi-kyung, Mr. Rumsfeld, or a Bacardi and Coke for Ji-su, at 20,000 won ($17) a pop.
And the women promise that for as long as you’re at Dream Bar with them, you can talk about whatever’s on your mind ― even topics that are off-limits everywhere else in Korea, such as North Korea’s human rights atrocities.
And the Dream women can promise you a little more, Mr. Rumsfeld, when you and they clink cocktail glasses.
No loaded questions, and no embarrassing leaks.
by Mike Ferrin