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The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun

In the past six months, I’ve been into some non-fiction books. More into psychology and also investment. Those various knowledge are great. But, it also tickles some thirst for some fiction. I stumbled into The Disaster Tourist after seeing it on Instagram post of POST, one of the best independent book store in Jakarta. The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun is a thrilling novel with interesting twists. I would say it’s also satirical.

In the beginning it feels a bit slow, but the sudden shock and the following disastrous events make me finished this book quite quick. I can feel the thrill in many part of the stories.

The story gives some slaps to the face of tourism industry, probably also including me. As we know, the tourism industry has changed a lot following the rise of internet and social media. Even though we know the industry faced another challenge these days due to pandemic, the novel still evokes you to think about next time you travel, especially travel abroad.

“It’s too scary to visit disaster destinations close to home,” Yona explained. “Don’t we need to be distanced somewhat from our ordinary lives -from the blankets we live under, and the bowls we eat from everyday- in order to see the situation more objectively?”

At some point, Yona’s relationship with Jungle might also questions us about how and why we work. It might resonate to people with long time loyalty to the place where she/he work.

Over the past decade, had Yona became too dependent upon her employer? Yona had initially applied to work at Jungle because she liked to travel, but after surviving ten years there, the company had begun to mean something else to her.

…There was just one downside to a company like this. The moment you quit your job, you had to restructure your entire life.

There is also a thought-provoking statement from one of the character in the book:

Disaster and catastrophe aren’t just within the realm of the gods. Us humans, we can manipulate nature too.

There is a bit to reflect about saviour complex too:

Yona didn’t know what to say. Maybe only outsiders thought Mui was poor. Perhaps it was arrogant for foreigners to describe Mui as a disaster zone.

A little bit spoiler about how the story ends, I guess nature will always find a way to win. And human, probably never tired to keep trying to look for drama and obliterate other people’s privacy.

Hopefully still got more time and resources to dig more on stories from women across Asia.

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A glimpse of a wide spectrum.

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