Posted November. 16, 2009 08:32,
Many Korean travel agencies include visits to indoor shooting ranges on the itinerary of Japanese tourists.
The fire at an indoor shooting range in Busan Saturday that left at least 10 dead was also a popular destination for Japanese male tourists.
Operation of for-profit shooting ranges using loaded cartridges is prohibited in Japan, a country condemned as a war criminal nation for starting the Second World War. In addition, few Japanese males have the chance to shoot a real gun since their nation has no military conscription system like Korea.
Therefore, indoor shooting ranges are popular among Japanese men for the experience.
Despite the Busan tragedy, several Japanese tourists waited their turn wearing bulletproof vests and goggles in an indoor shooting range in Seouls Myeongdong district yesterday afternoon. The range had two emergency exits and an entrance with a rubber floor. The dividing wall between the launch pads was covered in fabric.
A staff at the range said, We used internal combustion materials for soundproof walls, and police officers frequently come by every day to check.
Many visitors were also at an indoor shooting range in Lotte World amusement park in Seouls Jamsil district. The inside of the shooting booths was completely sealed with a soundproof mechanism.
Since it has no windows, however, it is difficult to ventilate smoke in case of fire. Launch pads had water in the front to prevent fire from sparks of flame bursting out of the muzzle of a gun.
There were 118 shooting ranges officially registered nationwide, according to police at the end of September. They included 15 comprehensive shooting ranges equipped with air guns, rifles and pistols, 91 for professional air gun shooters, four for bow guns and clay shooting, and eight for tourist pistol shooting.
The latest tragedy occurred at one of the tourist pistol shooting ranges, which included three in Seoul, four in Busan, and one in Gyeongju.