Virtual fighting leads to real defeatAdmit it. Sometimes a girl makes you so mad you just want to stun her with a swift one-two to the gut and jaw, then floor her with a low-sweeping roundhouse kick. But Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality doesn’t have anything like an Agency for Inter-Gender Pugnacity, so you can’t really do that.
Unless you go to the local juicy bar Cozy, in the basement of the seven-story building topped by Our Place restaurant.
The staff at Cozy, particularly So-hee, 23, and Hanna, 21, are always more than happy to let you get pugilistic on them. Mind you, you wouldn’t be hitting them, per se - you’d be attacking their characters in a Sony PlayStation2 video game called Virtua Fighter.
So-hee’s and Hanna’s boss, Yoo Eun-jung, bought the game console last year, hooking it up to a projection TV that uses the wall behind the bar as a screen. She has bought plenty of games, but Virtua Fighter is the one that’s always in the console. She claims she installed the system for her customers, to give them “more entertainment options.” At least that’s her story.
Again, So-hee or Hanna will spar with you anytime. But you need to keep your guard up, in more ways than one.
When you first go toe-to-toe with So-hee in a Virtua Fighter match, her character ― Pai, a lithe Chinese vixen ― will dispatch your character in short order, with a flurry of kicks and stomps. So-hee will do the same.
Then, over the next few rounds, your character ― say, Wolf, a bulky Canadian wrestler ― will start holding his own. You’ll assume a self-satisfied smile as you start getting the better of So-hee, winning a bout or two. You’ll feel that you’ve mastered the game’s controls and proved your intrinsic male superiority.
At that point, So-hee will have you right where she wants you. Then she’ll make a sly suggestion: that you do something to make the next round a little more exciting. How? By betting on the outcome. If you win, she’ll say, you can have “anything you want.” If she wins, of course, you have to buy her another drink.
Make no mistake: If you make a bet like this, you will lose. As soon as you’ve begun the match, poor Wolf will be felled by one of Pai’s cartwheel kicks, then drained of energy by a series of body slams. Seconds later, Pai will raise her arms in victory and Ms. Yoo will have peremptorily placed a drink in front of So-hee.
Another warning about Cozy: Be careful you don’t get blindsided by the bill. The lady drinks there are 30,000 won ($25) each, instead of the 10,000 or 20,000 won charged at most of Itaewon’s other juicy bars. “We have less trouble with the customers when we charge 30,000,” Ms. Yoo explained. “If we charge 20,000 a drink, we get cheap customers that always complain. If we charge 30, they never complain.”
Except, of course, when Wolf is getting whirlikicked by Pai and can’t even get off the dang virtual floor.
by Mike Ferrin