It seems at last that one can say with near certainty that spring is here. That is to say that no one’s really all that sure what’s going on with the weather. From one day to the next, the local climate seems to be indicating, primarily in hours, that the environment has finally shaken those last bits of frost only to turn around on itself with all the joy of that one person who can’t help but spend all of April 1st ruining everyone else’s day. In short, for all of the beautiful plants in bloom across the city, it’s really quite frustrating that May is just around the corner and it seems that going out without a coat on a warm day is just asking for trouble. I’ve found a fun place to both stay out of the unyielding fickleness of the season and release a little tension: Boy and Girls Leisure Café.
Boy and Girls, from the outside, looks like a typical toy store. Looking through the windows, one can see stuffed animals and the like lining the windows. It’s not until you get inside that the real reason for all the teddy bear kin are there: this is a novelty shooting gallery. When I mention the idea of a shooting gallery, people often cringe or become overly excited based on how they view guns and whether they miss them or are glad to not be around them. Something to take note of is the word ‘novelty’ shoved in there like so much paperwork on a Friday afternoon. Boy and Girls has 4 different skill based novelty shooting courses, starting with the common fair of electronic darts, basic archery, and 2 different types of bb weapons: a pistol and an automatic rifle.
Electronic darts really seem to border on the absurd if you’ve ever used a real dart board. The plastic tips break easily, they never stick to the board, and throwing something with no weight with any accuracy is nigh impossible. That being said, all of those negatives add to the fun, giving an extra element of uncertainty that can make a game amongst novices something more enjoyable. Archery here is held in a small area, around 4 meters between the aiming line and the target, using a basic but comfortable bow. Prizes are awarded for high scores (which none of my party were quite able to achieve) based on where your arrows line up on the target. Though it was a lot of fun to pick up a bow for the first time in quite a while, the shortness of the range made it feel a bit lacking, though a surprising challenge for a novice like myself.
Last were the bb weapons, the big kids’ toys if you will. The pistol, while reasonably accurate, is difficult to score enough points with to earn a prize, can be a lot of fun. There are multiple target settings for the pistols, the most common being shooting through slotted circular targets the size of a 100 won coin: a lot of fun, but deceptively hard. The second was the truest form of stress relief. This was an automatic rifle bb gun run on battery power that was used to try to save some fuzzy friends from the ropes that shackled them to the ceiling. The setup was that the stuffed animals were run by string to the ceiling which was broken and held together by red electrical tape. Firing the bb’s, the shooter was meant to cut through the tape, taking home whatever prize they could bring down. The odds were against me this time, though, because however much I hit the tape, I couldn’t liberate any of the teddy bear captives, but I had a fun time trying.
The Boy and Girls leisure café is located in the Megabox building near Chonnam Back Gate on the 2nd floor. The shooting galleries, besides the darts, tend to be playable by only one person at a time due to the score keeping required for handing out prizes. The cost of a round of play is 5,000 won, which normally lasts only a few minutes so don’t go here planning to spend an entire evening. Though it was a very fun location and the person working there was nice and generous (the lady of our group left with a stuffed memento though we’d not been able to win anything), it pales compared to many of the places I’ve been back home, mostly due to the small size and inability to play with multiple people simultaneously.
Even with the last remnants of the winter unwilling to be bucked off, there’s still plenty to do around town. Having the opportunity to spend the past couple weeks kicking around the Chonnam University Back Gate area has been fantastic and given me a better sense of not just how many reasons there are to like this particular part of Gwangju but also how much more I have to see of it. Thanks for sticking with me on this part of the crooked trail.