SEOUL, May 10 (UPI) -- Experts say South Korea should not rely on the United States to deter North Korean aggression, saying instead it should improve relations with China.
At a forum organized Thursday by the Sejong Institute think tank, analysts and academics discussed North Korea's current situation, Yonhap News Agency reported.
"Instead of relying on the United States, South Korea should try to secure independent deterrence against North Korea," said Koo Ban-hak, a professor at Hallym University Graduate School of International Studies.
Koo suggested South Korea strengthen ties with China, the North's key ally and economic benefactor, saying this relationship could encourage China to nudge the North to back down, Yonhap reported.
"A fundamental issue [is] to persuade North Korea to embrace democracy, reform and openness through humanitarian assistance and the resumption of inter-Korean exchanges and cooperative projects," Koo said.
Lee Seung-yeol, a research fellow at the Ewha Women's University Institute for Unificiation, said the North will resort to continued aggression rather than improving ties with the outside world.
Koo agreed, saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is not likely to pursue reform or openness because they could be seen as threats to his regime.
Kim pursues nuclear and missile programs in observance of the dying wish of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, who espoused a military-first policy, the report said. North Korea has affirmed these policies are not likely to change.