Consuming Disaster: Travelers of the Night by Yun Ko-eun

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.23 Spring 2014
  • byKang Yu-jung
Travelers of the Night

Disasters are unfortunate events faced by humanity. With disasters claiming tens of thousands of lives, some regard them as a kind of message or sign. Disasters are also sometimes referred to as the final judgment. Travelers of the Night, a novel by Yun Ko-eun, takes this belief one step further. The book introduces characters who perceive disaster as a consumable good, instead of a revelation. This is the reality of a post-capitalist society, which reduces all of nature to capital.

Ko Yo-na, the protagonist, works at a travel agency. She disguises herself as a tourist and heads for Mui, an area that will soon be kicked off the list of disaster travel destinations. Having lost its appeal as a spectacle of disaster, Mui is attracting fewer and fewer travelers by the day. Interestingly, Yo-na faces a similar fate as she is about to be fired from the travel agency.

Travelers of the Night is neither an escape from everyday life nor an exile from reality. In fact, it is the creation of a world dominated by a harsher reality. Author Yun Ko-eun flaunts her imaginative power once more with her unique concept of disaster travel packages. One difference is that whereas her past works were an attempt to escape from the gravity of reality, Travelers of the Night is more of a reaffirmation of it.

The tour to the end of the world leads to many unforeseeable situations. Hopes of return are shattered and it is revealed that disaster was expected from the start. Yo-na was merely a part of the cast of the planned disaster. At the exact moment when disaster unfolds, the only emotion that remains is love. Travelers of the Night is an excellent portrayal of a journey towards love, leaving behind the burden of reality. 




Author's Profile

Yun Ko-eun (b. 1980) made her literary debut when she won the Daesan Collegiate Literary Prize in 2004. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Table For One, and the novel, The Zero G Syndrome.