Shirtless North Korean soldiers beat each other with sticks and hammers while also smashing bricks with their heads and bending iron rods, all for the amusement of the top North Korean leadership including leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong.
State TV aired footage of the military event on Tuesday, which was set to patriotic martial music and also featured North Korean military personnel breaking slabs with sledgehammers while lying on beds of nails, broken glass and what appeared to be machete-sized knives.
The event is believed to be footage from a major North Korean exhibition on “Self Defence,” that took place on Monday in Pyongyang, where North Korea also showed off prototypes of hypersonic weapons that experts fear could one day deliver the regime’s nuclear weapons to targets around the world. The Hwasong-8 is expected to be a hypersonic glide style weapon that can deliver a nuclear payload at many times the speed of sound, at very low altitudes and, thus, are nearly impossible to intercept by current anti-missile systems.
Kim Jong Un also delivered a speech where he said that North Korea would greatly expand its military capabilities but was not looking for renewed conflict. He also got his picture taken near a man clad in a blue lycra suit who is probably part of an elite parachute unit.
But the real stars were the shirtless men beating one another with sticks. In one set piece demonstration, a large North Korean man broke free of chains, while being hit with large sticks by his comrades. In another
demonstration, a shirtless man fought and defeated a succession of uniformed men, most of whom were armed with clubs.
Kim Jong Un could be seen laughing and applauding at key moments, such as when one man broke bottles on the ground, so that he could lay in the broken glass while concrete blocks set on his stomach were broken by sledgehammers. His younger sister, who stood in a far back row and was semi obscured by the camera angles, appeared to politely applaud but at no point did she appear to laugh.
Kim Yo Jong was recently promoted to a top advisory position and has long unofficially been considered one of the most powerful people in the regime but her appointment in September to the State Affairs Commission is her highest official posting yet, and the highest ever attained by a woman in the North Korean regime.