SEOUL-- Defense policymakers and security experts from around the world gathered in Seoul on Wednesday for an annual forum, hosted by South Korea's defense ministry, amid growing concerns about North Korea's brinkmanship.

The sixth Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD) brings together more than 500 participants from 38 countries, including dozens of vice ministerial officials.

With the theme "Visions for Security Cooperation in an Age of Uncertainty," this year's SDD comes days after the North pressed ahead with a nuclear test in defiance of the international community's repeated warnings.

It offers chances for senior officials to have face-to-face discussions on ways to resolve the North Korea issue.

But China has not dispatched a government delegation amid a diplomatic row with South Korea over the deployment of the advanced U.S. missile defense system THAAD on the peninsula.

The three-day conference started with a Cyber Working Group meeting at the Westin Chosun hotel.

South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk will hold a round table meeting with his counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) later Wednesday.

On Thursday, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech.

In the first plenary session, Daniel Russel, a senior researcher at the Asia Society Policy Institute, will moderate discussions on North Korea's missile and nuclear threats, and the security vision for the Korean Peninsula.

He served as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He will be joined by the South Korean vice defense minister, Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th U.S. Air Force commander.

During two special sessions, participants will talk about the fourth industrial revolution and a related defense policy direction.

On the closing day, they will focus on how to promote international coordination against terrorism and cyberthreats.

Launched in 2012, the forum is modeled after the Asia Security Summit, better known as the Shanggri-La Dialogue, held in Singapore each year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency