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Survivor, Jeju, South Korea

15 January 2008 No Comment

It’s a cold day on Halla Mountain. Gnarled trees cast ghastly shadows on the forest floor. We’re hunting a group of Koreans who’ve taken cover on the far side of a ravine. I take up a defensive position with Zach and Pete on the opposite ridge. As the wind blows bitter cold through the leaves, we see figures in camouflage fatigues moving through the underbrush. I flip the safety off my AK-47 and watch in silence as they break through a tangle of thorn bushes. My finger hangs wearily over the trigger as we wait for them to come into range. I feel my heart beating in my chest as I work to steady my breath.

Suddenly a barrage of automatic weaponry fire pierces the silence of the early winter day. Shots fly overhead and ricochet off trees and rocks. We answer with a rain of bullets from our AK-47’s. They’ve got us pinned down though, and there’s too much ‘incoming’ to move. All we can do is fire dumbly in their direction and hope to get lucky. Zach takes a shot to the head. There’s no time to check on him—I peer around a boulder in time to see a Korean with an M-16 making a mad dash across the ravine. I take aim and mow him down, then turn my rifle on his partner.

Bing! Headshot! My helmet flashes red and plays a recording of a cheering crowd. “Damnit!” I curse. It’s all over for me. I’m dead.

This is “survivor,” a paintball-type game played with plastic pellets, a high tech sensor system and weaponry that looks and feels like the real thing. The games are staged by Team Halla, a group of Koreans from Lotte Hotel and Black Puma, a team of foreigners and sword fighting students organised by Master Lee Jeong-pil. Each outing features a series of different games with varying objectives. Sometimes the goal is to simply kill everyone on the opposing force. Other times teams are required to escort an MVP through a battle field alive, or capture an object from enemy territory. Foreigners face-off against Koreans in full camouflage gear, each of them having completed their compulsory military service. They put their training to good use in a game where the only rule is to kill or be killed, and the winners are the ones who survive.

They play with weapons produced by the Tokyo Marui CO. Their guns are so exact in detail they’ve been used in a number of Hollywood films, including recent hits like “Resident Evil: Extinction,”
“The Shooter” and “Grindhouse.”

The Korean opponents are no less authentic looking. With their army issue combat uniforms and supplies they look as though they could be shipped at any moment to the front lines and sent into battle. These guys mean business, so when you come to play you better bring your A-game.

The games are organized on an irregular basis and played in a number of different locations. Fees also vary depending on the weapons used, but tend to fall within 10-15,000 won. If you’re interested in participating in a match, contact Brian Miller at brianmiller@jejulife.net.

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