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North Korea’s most powerful weapon? Knuckles on broken glass and shirtless men.

But it is North Korea’s military stunts that often get the attention on the internet. Demonstrations include a mix of taekwondo and performances of “charyoxa”, a term used to describe traveling Koreans who roamed the countryside as part of a traveling circus, showing off their supernatural powers. .

Old circus performers wowed crowds with their dangerous feats, such as hammering a nail into the wood with the butt of the head or slamming a steel rod with their bare neck, as North Korean soldiers did for Mr. Kim on Monday Was.

During the Cold War, when the armies of South Korea and North Korea possessed somewhat sophisticated weapons, but there was much hostility, the two countries would stage martial-arts demonstrations as a morale booster. Most of the demonstrations have been abandoned as South Korea modernized its military. occasionally staged during Armed Forces Day

In the north, kick-and-smash displays of military might remain the preferred style of propaganda.

Mr. Kim was so proud of his military stunt squad that he invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his wife a performance When the couple visited Pyongyang in 2019. When former North Korean President Lee Myung-bak sought to show his displeasure in 2012 after shutting down inter-Korean trade in response to the North’s development of nuclear weapons, it issued footage The commandos threw axes and knives in the name of Mr. Lee.

These demonstrations are usually performed by members of elite units assigned to defend Pyongyang, Mr. Kim and his safe houses and villas across the country. They are called “human rifles and bombs” for the North Korean leader. Only one unit of jawans arrested Jang Song-theki, Mr. Kim’s uncle, when he was Execution In 2013 on charges of sedition and corruption.

“In the north it is said that each of these soldiers is trained to fight and defeat more than 10 men at the same time in hand-to-hand combat,” said An Chan-il, a North Korean defector. But just as North Korean children spent countless hours practicing for the Arirang Mass Games, the North Korean soldiers behind these stunts put themselves at great risk.

Taekwondo master Choi Won-young in South Korea, smashed a pile of granite slabs with a head butt During a television program Korea’s Got Talent in 2019, he warned viewers not to try it at home: “When the slabs don’t break, you blackout and then regain consciousness.”

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