In my mission to read more Asian Literature, I came across this recently released translated book from Korea – The Disaster Tourist. This was so deeply layered with such important issues addressed. It’s safe to say I am not disappointed.



An eco-thriller with a fierce feminist sensibility, The Disaster Tourist engages with the global dialog around climate activism, dark tourism, and the #MeToo movement.
For ten years, Yona has been stuck behind a desk as a coordinator for Jungle, a travel company specializing in vacation packages to destinations devastated by disaster and climate change. Her work life is uneventful until trouble arises in the form of a predatory colleague.To forestall any disruption of business-as-usual, Jungle makes Yona a proposition: a paid “vacation” to the desert island of Mui. But Yona must pose as a tourist and assess whether Jungle should continue their partnership with the unprofitable destination.


This book will make you questions your tourist behaviors and look for an Eco-friendly way to travel. at least that’s what it made me do


I did not know what dark tourism was all about until I finished reading this book. At first, I thought this was some imagined dystopian concept. Although, what makes this even more disturbing is the fact this is a real thing. We have tours for the Chernobyl in Ukraine and Belchite in Spain to name a few.
While, sure it definitely is important.. You need to remember the tragedy that followed after a disaster, be it man-made or natural. You need to empathize and be educated on the mistakes we did in history. What this book does though is gently ask you the question – But at what cost?


The place featured in this book is Mui Ne, a beach resort in Southeast Vietnam. It’s now a disaster tourism destination due to a sinkhole that formed here. Travelers journey through “the following stages: shock – sympathy and compassion, and maybe discomfort -gratefulness for their own lives- a sense of responsibility and the feeling that they’d learned a lesson, and maybe an inkling of superiority for having survived”. The story moves forward with a scheme Yoona gets caught up in – the idea of making new disasters to uplift the tourism economy.
There are a lot of subtle hints of how tourism is affecting the people living in Mui Ne and how helpless they are without it as well.


The story is extremely thought provoking and takes into account the toxic corporate world, climate change, capitalism and dark tourism insights on board. And yet, the pacing and the writing style wasn’t working for me. Maybe, it’s the translation issue and this book would be a power package in it’s original language. I will never know though.
Will I read again from the author, Yes! The concept of this book is quite a refreshing take on thrillers and deals with the real terrors of the world.

RATING : 3.0/5.0

Overall, this book was absolutely brilliant with its concept and made me put down the book and ponder on some of the themes much longer after I turned the page. The reading pace was slow and took me a while to get into the writing style which definitely affected my overall reading experience to some extent. This is also reflected towards my rating of this book. But, if you can get through the parts that drag, this book is a gem of a book that has some refreshing take on the urgent and definitive terrors on a global level


Published On : August 4th 2020
Genre : Literary Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Counterpoint
Pages : 208