I can assure you those are real bricks and not veneer bricks as mentioned above.
However, there is no way of knowing what is inside the hearth, what is the core material. I doubt they used brick to build it up to that size. More likely, there is cement block or some other material in the center. The only way to find out is by taking it apart. The best way to dismantle it brick by brick is with an SDS rotary hammer set to chisel mode (not spinning) and using a wide masonry bit. If you can't get your hands on one you could use a small sledge hammer and 2" wide cold chisel. Regular hammer would work okay, but a small sledge hammer costs about $12 and will make the job go a lot quicker.
By working the mortar joints evenly all the way around each brick you're not likely to break very many of them. You can also use the wide cold chisel to cut the bricks in half. Lay a brick on the ground (dirt or sand is best to absorb the shock) and chisel at the middle (or where ever you want the cut) all around the brick until it separates into two pieces. It may take a couple of bricks to get the hang of it, but it goes pretty fast after that.
I use a dry diamond blade in my 4-1/2" angle grinder or a similar blade in my 7-1/4" circular saw. A wet saw also works well. Oh, so many options. But with a hammer and a 2" cold chisel you can remove and cut the bricks as needed.
Gloves are recommended. Safety glasses are a must!