Soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)

Regarding the Aug. 2 news article “Tillerson seeks talks with N. Korea”:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assuring outreach to North Korea is a refreshing and, I believe, correct approach. North Korea is not a traditional nation-state but a cult that possesses territory. Cults need to maintain tension with the outside world. Sanctions, isolation and threats only increase the leader’s control. And as seen with other cultic groups — such as the Jonestown settlement in Guyana and the compound near Waco, Tex. — outside pressure can push cults into suicidal acts.

Cults must be handled differently from nation-states. Their members are isolated from alternative views, compelled to obey the leader and frightened of outsiders. North Koreans need more contact with foreigners, more outside news and more opportunities to travel. Dialogue and person-to-person meetings would likely reduce North Korea’s siege mentality.

Coincidentally, the Aug. 2 news article “U.S. rules on N. Korea trips fuel worry” noted that many Korean families remain shattered since the Korean War, and contained a suggestion that the United States and North Korea sponsor family reunions. South Korea, Japan and other countries with large Korean communities also could participate. Such small events might be the first step in reducing North Korea’s fear of the outside world and showing the regime that peaceful opportunities await beyond its borders.

Chris M. Centner, Reston