North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marks the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the demise of the country's founding father Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang July 8, 2017. Photo: KCNA

Days after claiming a successful test of an ICBM, the front page of North Korea’s state newspaper on Monday featured a smiling Kim Jong-un waving his right hand at columns of men, most of whom were in military uniforms.

But what caught the eye of North Korea watchers were those standing closest to Kim: they were country’s top scientists and weapons developers. The inner sanctum of North Korea’s Supreme Leader is now populated by the officials in charge of his nuclear and missile development program, according to a report in Korea JoongAng Daily.