Liberty Expose: Kim Jong-Un's Affluenza

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A few years ago, a seemingly normal court case took the nation by storm. The case wasn’t particularly unique; Ethan Couch, an intoxicated driver, killed four people near Fort Worth, Texas. What was peculiar about the case was the verdict; though Ethan Couch undeniably killed those people while drinking and driving, he was only sentenced to probation. Why? He committed the crime of driving under the influence, which is certain.

His actions resulted in the deaths of four innocent people, and the injuring of more. The families of the victims know that all too well. Ethan Couch even stole alcohol in the time preceding the tragedy that he would commit. Yet, he was given the proverbial slap on the wrist for walking the line between manslaughter and murder.

Evidently though, Couch was at a disadvantage in life. He was not forced to act immorally or recklessly against his will, nor does he suffer a severe mental illness. What Ethan Couch did suffer from, the malady that saved him from Huntsville State Penitentiary, was “affluenza.” Affluenza in the common vernacular translates to Ethan Couch’s affluent upbringing and lack of social enforcement from his parents meant that Ethan Couch was exempt from the laws of the land.

I have been thinking about this case as I have watched North Korea these last few months. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, the behavior of Kim Jong-Un has grown more erratic and unstable – even by North Korean standards.

Aside from the standard human rights abuses that have defined the North Korean regime, Kim Jong-Un has significantly increased the development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In recent months, the international community has witnessed multiple nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, and Japan has endured the anxiety of sitting still as North Korea launched missiles over the land of the rising sun.

The United States would not tolerate this behavior from any other regime. Being the lone superpower, the United States has accumulated several adversaries; namely, Russia, Iran, China, and just every insurgent group known to man. And each one of these adversaries contributes to the global disorder; Russia continually undermines the sovereignty of Eastern Europe and the West, Iran is persistent in exporting terrorism, throughout the Middle East, and China is on a campaign of territorial expansion in the South China Sea. None of these activities, however, amount to the derange behavior of Kim Jung-Un and his behavior.

What separates North Korea from the other nations is that North Korea has a protector: China. While virtually every other nation has Isolated Kim Jung-Un and his regime, China has supported North Korea economically and otherwise. China accounts for 85% for North Korea’s trade, no other nation come close.

China has made noises about punishing North Korea for its behavior, but the promises have fallen flat. The People’s Republic has voted against North Korea on the United Nations Security Council and have promised to slash imports of coal from North Korea. But despite these threats, China continues to support Kim Jong-Un and his regime by importing coal and other resources.

The erratic behavior of North Korea continues because China excuses it; Kim Jong-Un is giving an exemption. And to punish Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s protector must be penalized.

The United States can proceed with this in several ways: In a publicity stunt, the United States can launch a campaign to highlight China’s abuse of North Koreans in China. North Koreans in China are often subject to deplorable labor conditions in China, the second largest abuser of North Korean citizens after North Korea itself.

The United States can also use economic leverage against China. The United States can sanction individuals and businesses in China that do business with a North Korean regime. The end goal of this is to economically suffocate any business collaborators with Kim Jong-Un and the regime he oversees.

China must be made to see that continued support of North Korea is counter-productive to all its interests in the region. Kim Jong-Un has not be a good ally to China; aside from bringing negative attention to the region and compelling the United States to up the American military presence in the region. Politically, Kim Jong-Un has purged the regime of all the supports of the People’s Republic.

Supporting North Korea is in China’s strategic interest. North Korea serves as a buffer state against the democratic allies of the United States. The fall of North Korea will result in South Korea, a nation that hosts American troops, on the border of China. That threat alone has propelled China to go to war in the past.

As the behavior of Kim Jong-Un is unstainable, the United States should adopt of policy of supporting the end of the Kim family rule. This can present an opportunity for the United States and China to work together to reach common interests in the region. China can sponsor a regime coup in North Korea and install a pro-Chinese leader in North Korea.

It could benefit both the United States and China; if China reforms the regime from the totalitarian dystopia it is to an authoritarian regime like that of China. In return to human rights reforms and nuclear disarmament of North Korea, the United States would relieve North Korea of diplomatic pressure. China, in return, will still how a pro-regime buffer state on the Korean peninsula.

The other policy of removing the Kim family from power can involve further penalization of China by the United States supporting a democratic regime, and the potential of an anti-China unified Korea on the border.

The Irony of the Ethan Couch case was that in the end, Couch would serve time. Ethan Couch was arrested for a parole violation in Mexico. This time, his mother was arrested as well for actions associated with her son. In the end, she suffered because of her support of her son’s behavior. China too must be penalized for Kim Jong-Un’s affluenza, or the world will continue to watch military escalation in the Asia-Pacific.