(For a complete report and photo-essay about North Korea from April 2012, visit North Korea Uncloaked)
(Also check out our visit to the Pyongyang Friendship Fair).
North Korea offers certain tourists the privilege of Soviet-era comforts that you may not find at more traditional ‘vacation’ retreats.
After a long day of boozing at various restaurants, our group of mostly Americans made our way into a military controlled shooting-range that seemed to be occupied predominantly by North Korean soldiers looking to blow off steam. One of the veteran travelers in my group explained that this particular hovel is not always shown to tourists, so our group was lucky.
The first part of the shooting-range is a bar that sells large amounts of cheap North Korean beer (tastes a little like cider) plus imported junk food from various neighboring countries. I was already hammered when I came in, and after about another two pints I was finally ready to go shooting.
For the not-so-cheap price of about $.50 a bullet we could use a piece of junk Soviet rifle to aim at a few targets. I’m not a gun-aficionado so I can’t tell you what type of rifle it was, but if these are the guns the soldiers use–I can accurately report that Americans are completely safe if we ever go to war with this country. I used to a be a fairly good aim with my father’s .22 rifle, but this thing couldn’t shoot a dinosaur in a cage.
But the best part of the shooting range is that for an extra $5.00 you’re allowed to take a shot at the livestock wandering around along the edge, namely pheasants. If you’re a crack-shot and you kill a bird, you’re given the carcass.
Two of our group-members actually bagged pheasants. We brought them back to our hotel and handed them to the kitchen staff. The next morning, while all of the other tourists were forced to dine on excessive amounts of kimchee (pickled cabbage) and cold eggs, we were presented a nice pheasant stew.
Sometimes in North Korea you have to do what you can to find a decent meal.
I wish I had taken more photos of the shooting range, but I was too drunk to care. In fact, I’m surprised I was able to hold a camera let alone a gun. (In retrospect, maybe the rifle didn’t have such bad aim, and I was just really drunk. I don’t really know. In fact, I don’t really remember.)
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