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Editor’s note: To research these stories on the “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade,” Stars and Stripes reporter Jimmy Norris created an online character and went searching for a group of South Korea-based soldiers in the vast fantasy world. Here is his story.

AZEROTH, World of Warcraft — As a freshly created level-one gnome warrior with a dinky sword and a battered shield, I set across the frozen wasteland of Dun Morog.

I needed to get to Ironforge, one of the game’s more populous cities, so I could begin my search for members of a guild called “USFK.”

All I knew was that its founding members were soldiers stationed in South Korea. The only way to find them was through the game.

The plan seemed simple enough. Create a character, run to Ironforge, and “spam” general chat channels until someone helped me.

I chose to be a gnome because they’re cute, and their starting area is near Ironforge. I also made him a warrior for his durability.

Two hours, 50 troggs, a handful of trolls and three deaths later, I was a level-six gnome warrior. I had found some armor and traded my dinky sword for a dinky hammer.

I was ready for the tunnel and whatever else might try to stop me from reaching Ironforge.

This time, I made it and began my search.

“Has anyone ever heard of a guild called ‘USFK?’ ” I asked in the general chat channel.

The bright pink letters of “whisper” text appeared, asking me “Who wants to know?”

“Are you with them?” I asked.

“No, but I know someone who is,” the whisperer responded. “Why do you want to know?”

I explained that despite my cute appearance and dinky hammer, I was a reporter from Stars and Stripes seeking sources for a story about players from the military community in the Pacific.

A few minutes later, I was receiving whispers from Sgt. Chad Meyers, the guild’s founder.

The guild itself had disbanded after much of the core membership had their accounts banned for “power leveling.”

Since the conclusion of my adventures reporting from Azeroth, my gnome has fallen into disuse.

Already an avid player, I have a high-level “night elf” who resides on another server.

Still, every once in a while, I get the urge to wield that cute little hammer and smash up some troggs. Or troll for some stories.

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