Regarding the Dec. 26 news story “In N. Korea, signs of smooth transfer of power”:

With the leadership transition underway in North Korea, the United States would do well to signal a new beginning with that country. I just returned from a visit there on a mission with the Fuller Center for Housing. We plan to build houses for workers at a tree farm.

The friendliness that our work team experienced in the village we visited became all the more memorable because we saw the residents’ spartan living conditions (not enough food, heating fuel and other necessities). At a large market in Pyongyang, we were surrounded by many ordinary North Koreans. Seeing their faces made us hope that our two countries will never be at war again.

Our policies of heightening fear seem to have brought only increased danger and defensive behavior. Might this be the time to work toward the normalization of relations between the United States and North Korea, just as we have normalized relations with China and Vietnam?

Earl Martin, Harrisonburg

In his article pegged to the ascension of Kim Jong Eun in North Korea [“Too much power for young hands?” Style, Dec. 24], Marc Fisher, quoting authorities ranging from neuroscientists to developmental psychologists to the Book of Ecclesiastes, argued that the performance of “rulers who came to power before age 30” has been “less than impressive.”

Mr. Fisher’s argument was highly selective. History provides several examples of rulers who came to power before age 30 whose reigns have been considered quite impressive:  Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II of England were all in their 20s. Victoria became queen of England at 18.

Mr. Fisher and the neuroscientists and developmental psychologists he quoted might ponder these facts before making categorical judgments.

Martin B. Nass, Silver Spring