Kim's Great Game

Lee Myong Sok grew up in the town of Dongducheon, just 20 km south of Korea's Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the grotesquely fortified no-man's-land rimmed with razor wire, heavy military hardware and tens of thousands of soldiers. When he was a boy, Lee lived on "army-base stew": leftover meals from U.S. military canteens, which he would throw into a pot with cabbage and water after discarding the stray cigarette butts. Today, as an operator of a bar in which Russian girls serve the drinks, Lee is still living off the American troops who serve as a "trip wire": if North Korea attacks,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!