North Korea develops an even more lethal goose step

As if nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles weren't enough, North Korea has developed, in defiance of arms control measures and international law, a more lethal version of the goose step.

The North Koreans have developed a pacy, highly stylised form of the infamous military march, which is said to have originated in 18th-century Prussia. Favoured by leaders of totalitarian regimes ever since – including Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Castro and Stalin – the stechschritt is intended to intimidate the enemy by demonstrating both discipline and devotion. But the North Korean version includes a curious, bobbing spring in the step, which looks particularly gruelling.

"It is really, really hard to do for a prolonged period. It's tough on the hamstrings and you need excellent core strength and balance to maintain that upper-body stiffness. The action is also really bad on the knees and feet because it encourages you to slam your foot down hard on the floor."

North Korean girl-soldiers seem to be the most proficient at demonstrating this style of military prowess.

What is it about dictatorships and the goose step?

A prominent and chilling feature of these marches is the goose-step, in which thousands and thousands of troops kick their legs up like belligerent, robotic Rockettes.

George Orwell ... wrote:

One rapid but fairly sure guide to the social atmosphere of a country is the parade-step of its army… The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me." …Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.

Where there isn't revulsion, there's humor. Years of sarcastic derision – both in the popular culture at large and by comedians such as Mel Brooks and ex-Monty Python cast member John Cleese – have ultimately relegated the goose-step to the realm of the ridiculous.

Questions for discussion:

1) Do you think any of the North Korean soldiers accidently trample the line in front of them?

2) If a soldier falls down and injures himself, do you think he gets an aspirin and ice for his knees?

3) What happens to the soldiers who can't raise their legs that high?  Do you think selective executions have weeded out inflexible soldiers from the North Korean genome and created a nation where every citizen can instinctively fight in the military and/or join the national ballet team?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

As if nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles weren't enough, North Korea has developed, in defiance of arms control measures and international law, a more lethal version of the goose step.

The North Koreans have developed a pacy, highly stylised form of the infamous military march, which is said to have originated in 18th-century Prussia. Favoured by leaders of totalitarian regimes ever since – including Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Castro and Stalin – the stechschritt is intended to intimidate the enemy by demonstrating both discipline and devotion. But the North Korean version includes a curious, bobbing spring in the step, which looks particularly gruelling.

"It is really, really hard to do for a prolonged period. It's tough on the hamstrings and you need excellent core strength and balance to maintain that upper-body stiffness. The action is also really bad on the knees and feet because it encourages you to slam your foot down hard on the floor."

North Korean girl-soldiers seem to be the most proficient at demonstrating this style of military prowess.

What is it about dictatorships and the goose step?

A prominent and chilling feature of these marches is the goose-step, in which thousands and thousands of troops kick their legs up like belligerent, robotic Rockettes.

George Orwell ... wrote:

One rapid but fairly sure guide to the social atmosphere of a country is the parade-step of its army… The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me." …Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.

Where there isn't revulsion, there's humor. Years of sarcastic derision – both in the popular culture at large and by comedians such as Mel Brooks and ex-Monty Python cast member John Cleese – have ultimately relegated the goose-step to the realm of the ridiculous.

Questions for discussion:

1) Do you think any of the North Korean soldiers accidently trample the line in front of them?

2) If a soldier falls down and injures himself, do you think he gets an aspirin and ice for his knees?

3) What happens to the soldiers who can't raise their legs that high?  Do you think selective executions have weeded out inflexible soldiers from the North Korean genome and created a nation where every citizen can instinctively fight in the military and/or join the national ballet team?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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