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Coup Caught On Camera: Myanmar Woman Goes Viral For Dance Video With Surreal Backdrop

Khing Hnin Wai's video of herself dancing while seemingly unaware of Myanmar's military coup unfolding in the background has gone viral since Monday.
Khing Hnin Wai/Screenshot by NPR
Khing Hnin Wai's video of herself dancing while seemingly unaware of Myanmar's military coup unfolding in the background has gone viral since Monday.

Fitness instructor Khing Hnin Wai has been filming herself performing aerobics on the same street in Myanmar's capital city for months. But none of her videos has gone quite as viral as the one she posted on Monday, in which she inadvertently captured the country's military coup unfolding in the background.

In the video, she can be seen dancing energetically to techno-pop while wearing workout gear and a face mask, seemingly oblivious to the convoy of black vehicles streaming down the road behind her as Myanmar's military seizes control of the government.

Khing Hnin Wai posted the nearly 3.5-minute video to her Facebook page, on which she lists her job as a physical education teacher. Her video has since garnered more than 67,000 Facebook reactions and has also been circulated widely on other social media platforms, including in one tweet that has racked up nearly 60,000 likes and 25,000 retweets.

"Before I heard the news ... in the morning, the video I made for the aerobic dance competition has become an unforgettable memory," she wrote on Facebook, according to Al Jazeera.

Resty Woro Yuniar, a reporter for the South China Morning Post, wrote on Twitter that the music in the background is an Indonesian song called "Ampun Bang Jago," which she said was "used widely on TikTok during Omnibus Law protests last year." Those protests in Indonesia targeted government reforms that critics said would harm workers and the environment.

She recorded the video on a roundabout on a main road leading to the parliament complex in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, according to the BBC, which said that it had been in contact with Khing Hnin Wai and that she "confirmed the video is real." NPR has not independently verified its authenticity.

After others on social media cast doubts on the video's authenticity, Khing Hnin Wai shared another Facebook post with several videos of herself dancing in the same location, saying she had been working out there regularly for the past 11 months.

"I wasn't dancing to mock or ridicule any organisation or to be silly. I was dancing for a fitness dance competition," she wrote, according to the BCC. "As it isn't uncommon for [Naypyidaw] to have an official convoy, I thought it was normal so I continued."

Myanmar is under military rule following Monday's coup, in which the military detained de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and declared a yearlong state of emergency. The military claims Aung San Suu Kyi's party won last November's election because of fraud.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.