Professor Park Geun-young of Global Hotel Tourism Department at Wonkwang Health Science University
Professor Park Geun-young of Global Hotel Tourism Department at Wonkwang Health Science University

Dark Tourism, anyone interested in travel, may have heard of it at least once. Dark tourism is a trip to learn lessons by looking back at the sites of tragic history such as war and slaughter, or where disasters occurred.

Representative places of dark tourism are Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, Ground Zero in New York where the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Killing Field in Cambodia, Seodaemun Prison, 4·3 Peace Memorial Hall containing the history of the Jeju 4·3 Incident,Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Gwangju May 18 Cemetery, Daegu Citizen Safety Theme Park for the Daegu Subway Disaster, and the Sewol Ferry Memorial Park for the Sewol Ferry Disaster.

In general, it is a place that is unlikely to come up easily when thinking of tourist attractions. However, as the importance of establishing correct historical awareness gradually spreads, the number of dark tourism tourists continues to increase.

Recently, due to the development of media and ICT (Information and Communication Technology), dark tourism has quickly become a tourism trend. This is because the places introduced through the media have intrigued tourists and the demand for special tourism is increasing.

Poland's Auschwitz Camp, well known as a representative tourist destination for dark tourism, is a place where 4 million people, including Jews, were slaughtered by the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II, and there are gas chambers, iron walls, and torture rooms used at the time. In the exhibition room inside the camp, the relics and hair of the victims were preserved as they were, leaving the horrors of the time intact. The Auschwitz Camp was established to convey the tragedy of the massacre to future generations and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, attracting more than 1 million tourists every year. In addition, Ukraine has transformed the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, recorded as the worst disaster, into a tourist attraction, with more than 10,000 tourists visiting the site annually.

Dark tourism is not just a dark and sad trip, but a trip that sheds light on history and provides a new perspective by learning reflection and lessons. However, on the one hand, there are voices saying that the unhealed pain was created for some benefits.

The Daegu Jung-gu Office created a tourist destination in 1909 with the aim of revitalizing the commercial district by utilizing the symbolism of the Dalseong Park section from Daegu Station on a fishing road where Emperor Sunjong visited Daegu during his nationwide trip. However, some criticize that Japan's journey to the south of Emperor Sunjong was aimed at stopping the resistance of the Korean people, and that the restoration of Eoga-gil was a distortion of Japanese colonial era's history. In addition, as Chernobyl was produced as a drama and became very popular, the number of tourists visiting the site increased, but some tourists were criticized for dressing up and doing things that did not consider the tragic scene.

In this way, hasty planning of tourism products by using tourists' emotional reactions or focusing only on attracting them can not only instill false historical awareness but also tarnish the meaning of the site. Therefore, when planning dark tourism products, products with accurate meaning and purpose must be developed based on a careful approach.

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