Columnist

I have an easy way solve the North Korea crisis. Take Kim Jong Un to Tysons Corner Center.

"What is a Sleep Number?" he would say as we walked within the cool, hermetically sealed monument to consumption.

"I don't know," I'd answer truthfully. "But that store sells mattresses. Each one has a different number. They can tell you what your number is. I guess it's like numerology for beds."

Come to think of it, could Kim's problem be that he's been sleeping on the wrong mattress all these years?

I don't know how we'd get Kim to agree to go to Tysons. Isn't he into weird American culture? We could tell him that Dennis Rodman was going to be there, along with Smashmouth and the cast of "Manimal."

In the end, we'd probably have to kidnap him. The old "Mission: Impossible" TV show — the one with Peter Graves and Martin Landau — used to kidnap people all the time. Some enemy tyrant or secret agent would go to sleep and wake up on a soundstage designed to look like the United Nations or a stricken submarine or something.

Kim might think that's what Tysons was: a Potemkin village built just to impress him. But on and on it would go: store after store after store. Not to mention the kiosks.

I was at Tysons not long ago and I was reminded of how remarkable a good American mall can be, how strangely reassuring to an American. Yes, a mall is like casino in the way it's designed to separate you from your money, but most Americans don't seem to mind.

When I was there I bought things I needed — shoes, pants for work — and something I didn't: an off-white dinner jacket with black piping. It was on sale at Macy's, plus there was a coupon. It ended up being about $60.

How often will I need an off-white dinner jacked with black piping? I don't know, but when that need arises, I'll be ready. I pity the poor North Korean who finds himself in a similar situation.

Capitalism has a lot of problems, sure. But I think it provides a valve for letting off steam, for sublimating the impulses that drive groups of people to make war with other groups of people. Shopping is the modern equivalent of hunting and gathering, fighting and flighting.

I get into lizard-brain shopping loops myself. I'll think about buying something, a new camera, say. I'll read reviews of the camera online. I'll look at YouTube videos about the camera. I'll compare prices for the camera.

I'll know I don't need that camera — $1,000? Are you kidding me? — but all that idle shopping will have caused a change in my hypothalamus. The prospect of not possessing that camera will make me feel physically ill, the same way Kim probably feels ill at the prospect of not destroying the United States.

An anthropologist or psychologist could probably explain it. All I know is that when I went to Tysons Corner Center and bought that dinner jacket, I saved myself $940. The red mist of shopping warfare had been lifted.

So that's why I want to take Kim Jong Un there — not just to show him how our superior way of life has created both American Girl and Build-a-Bear Workshop, but to offer him an alternative to his hissy-fit histrionics: Relax, Kim. Try on a Superdry hoodie. You'll feel better.

A Wegmans would probably work, too.

American Top 40 countdown

"Rocket Man." That's what our president called the leader of North Korea.

I immediately thought of the Elton John song. It didn't make sense. If our official U.S. foreign policy is going to involve tagging rogue leaders with epithets picked from 1970s pop songs, we at least ought to get them right.

As a child of Top 40 radio, I offer my services. For Kim, I'd suggest the song "Little Willy" by the Sweet. The lyrics seem strangely prescient:

North side, east side Little Willy, Willy wears the crown./ He's the king around town.

(Well, he wants to be the king around town.)

And later in the song:

But you can't push Willy 'round, Willy won't go./ Try tellin' everybody but, oh no, Little Willy, Willy won't go home.

Let's just hope this crisis doesn't turn into "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia."

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.