Compartment Country

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Tee’d Off: Jon hits the virtual lynx

With so many people and such limited real estate, frivolous use of space in Korea is out of the question. To make things more efficient, Korea has developed into a country of compartments. In addition to the endless numbers of apartment blocks in which most Koreans live, there are is also series of rooms (called “bangs”) for nearly every interest. There’s the PC Bang for playing Starcraft and other soul-sucking games. There’s the Norae Bang (song room) for belting out aweful karaoke jams. There are video rooms to watch new releases on huge flatscreens. There is the “Jim-Jil Bang” designed for sitting and sweating. I even found a room specifically reserved for playing ping pong.

Recently a few friends found another room to add to this compartment culture: screen golf. Now I can’t play golf to save my life, but the technology in these places is pretty impressive even to an outsider. It’s got hundreds of virtual golf courses, variable wind speeds, self-adjusting putting surfaces, and even soothing bird-chirping sounds for when you shank your ball into the water hazard. Best of all, it shrinks massive golf courses into the siz e of something just larger than your living room.

With space being so scarce, I can foresee a future in Korea where all outdoor recreational activities will be condensed into some sort of virtual form. People will go on virtual treks in the Hiking Bang, fly down virtual slopes in the Skiing Bang, and then head to the Fishing Bang to catch some virtual tuna. While many city planners would look Korea’s density as an intimidating  barrier, to Koreans, there is always room for growth.

Related Viewing: “Everything in It’s Right Place” – Radiohead

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