March 1, 2021

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She often used Myanmar’s parliament as the backdrop for her workout videos. Then a coup happened.

The upbeat video, which swiftly went viral, shows a woman identified on social media as Khing Hnin Wai, performing a carefree, feel good routine — seemingly unaware that history is being made in the background.

On her Facebook page, Khing Hnin Wai describes herself as a physical education teacher who works for the country’s Ministry of Education. To date, she has 30,000 followers.

The video was also taken by members of the public and shared to Twitter where it has generated more than 14 million views along with some debate over its legitimacy.

On Monday, Myanmar’s military announced that it had seized control of the country, staging a coup against the democratically elected government. Leader Aung San Suu Kyi of the civilian government, whose party won in a landslide in 2015 and again in 2020, was detained by soldiers along with other leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy party.

The generals have declared a one-year state of emergency. The United States and Britain have condemned the coup along with The United Nations — as neighboring countries China and Thailand appeared to downplay the situation, referring to it as an “internal affair.”

While Wai’s sudden rise to fame sparked global interest and positive comments from around the world, others took to social media to critique the video, implying that it was staged or a political stunt — an accusation Wai responded to by explaining on Facebook that she had often used the parliamentary background as the setting for her dance routines.

To back up her explanation she shared a string of past videos recorded in the same location of her dancing to upbeat anthems outdoors. In the videos she wears different outfits and dances to different music. The most notable difference being that in the other videos no military coup is unfolding behind her and the city’s streets are empty.

Writing in Burmese, Wai told followers that she “did not expect” the coup to unfold as she danced in a location that was familiar to her.

“I love the videos you shared with the world today but saddened that people made you feel like you had to explain yourself,” wrote one of Wai’s fans on Facebook as others urged her not to pay attention to negative comments online.

It didn’t take long for Indonesian social media users to identify the song in Wai’s workout video as “Ampun Bang Jago” — by Indonesian duo Tian Storm and Ever Slkr, which YouTube fans have branded an “absolute banger.”

The popular song begins with sirens blaring and speaks of a power battle between authorities and the people, according to The South China Morning Post. It has served as the soundtrack to past demonstrations and protests and frequently used in a bid to mock police officers.

On Monday, composer Tian Storm shared snippets of Wai’s video to his Instagram story.

Khing Hnin Wai could not immediately be reached for comment.