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North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site Spent the Weekend Hosting Volleyball

Satellites spotted some unexpected heat.

All eyes have been on North Korea over the past week, as Kim Jong-un promised to launch another nuclear test, and various world leaders detailed how they would respond.

But analysts watching the Punggye-ri nuclear test site via satellite spotted a more vigorous type of activity: volleyball, being played in at least three parts of the facility.

Volleyball is opaque at the best of times, and this incarnation of it was particularly mystifying. “The volleyball games… were probably intended to send a message,” the New York Times reports. “But what meaning the North wanted to convey is unclear.”

Most analysts put forth two opposing theories at once. The first is that the games imply that the site is on standby. The second is that North Korea—knowing that analysts are watching—are trying to trick those analysts into thinking that the site is on standby. “We really don’t know,” one expert, Joseph Bermudez, told the Times.

Due to the nature of satellite imagery—and, presumably, their own priorities—analysts were also unable to answer another important question: were they any good?

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