Deploy Ajumas! Busan: Real-Time Strategy

Here is the wreckage of the Korean War: the city of Busan lies in ruins. Smoke seeps into the sky, oil seeps into the sea, the forests and buildings are all burned to the ground, shattered bridges are surrounded by the rusting husks of tanks and even the charred bones of soldiers, and the last of the delicious dogs have been gobbled down by gleeful generals still sucking the juice from their fingers—regardless, the armistice has been signed by the cowardly United Nations, and it’s time to rebuild! The tiger licks its yellow teeth! This is where our strategy game begins! Deploy ajumas!

They swarm in from the countryside, these dwarven grandmothers, and their sturdy chests and hardy limbs are more than a match for the war’s leftovers. Left click ajuma, right click plant, to plant barrels of kimchi deep underground. These begin to heal the earth, with vines and fresh-poured cement blossoming from red vaults; squatting on their wide haunches, they chip away all the nastiness with hammers and chisels, hew out the first crypts for the subway, mine the metals from the mountains for the city’s hotels, in short, lay the new city’s foundations. Next come their businessmen husbands, whom they hound and nag day and night, keeping them sleepless until they start wringing profits from their companies. The children get no kimchi unless they slave over their schoolwork. And indeed, after a few decades of hollow-eyed sleeplessness, the city begins to rise and prosper, its vast harbor roaring with cranes…

Then the North Koreans reinvade! Who’s there to stop them when their armies roll up to Busan? The drunken businessmen? The ticklish children? The dogs, all turned into soup? No! It’s the immortal ajumas! Sure, they may spend all day selling yogurt and shouting nonsense, but when the survival of their nation is on the line, they tear the heads clean off North Korean shoulders, impale men on their canes, dodge bullets thanks to the deceptive bagginess of their clothes (“ajuma-time”) and their difficult-to-hit bent-backed postures…even tanks are no match for their shoves. Special abilities! The old border is again restored.

But now a new threat arrives. It has become debatably necessary to invite English-speaking foreigners to the city to educate the masses and therefore help facilitate the Korean takeover of planet Earth, but the perspicacious steely-eyed ajumas observe that these foreigners do no more than get drunk, corrupt the youth with their barbaric tongues, steal money, and sully the pure and noble Korean bloodline by seducing and impregnating innocent Korean damsels, often on the very same subways that the ajumas helped to build! The response is as multi-pronged as the clumsy foreigner’s forks: glares that sometimes last for half an hour, double and even triple and quadruple takes, grumbles, a deceptive kindness, dog meat slipped into their food, loud conversations, all peaceful and underhanded efforts designed to annoy the foreigners so totally that they leave Korea and never return…

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