In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the the Sungri Motor Complex in Pyeongannam-do, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
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When Kim Jong Un sat down in September to order the sixth and largest of North Korea's nuclear tests, Hwang Pyong So sat by his side, his khaki military uniform conspicuous among the suits at the table, photos released by state media at the time showed.Now Hwang, once one of Kim's most-trusted advisers, is facing unspecified punishment on the orders of another man who also sat at that exclusive table in September, Choe Ryong Hae, South Korean intelligence officials believe.Hwang, a shy, bespectacled general in his mid-60s, is a close confidant of Kim Jong Un and has had an unprecedented rise to the top rungs of North Korea's leadership in the space of a few years.In 2014, he became one of the most powerful people outside the ruling Kim family when he was named chief of the General Political Bureau of the army, a powerful position that mobilises the military for the leader.The punishment may not reflect any specific mistakes on Hwang's part but could be part of a wider effort by Kim to ensure that the ruling party retains its control over the military, Lee said.
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