The approach to the Chernobyl exclusion zone is reminiscent of another no-go area I have visited once before. The DMZ, on the border between South and North Korea, shares the same expanse of big white skies and wild, unmanaged forest. They felt the same, too, with their otherworldly atmospheres and stark imagery.
Thousands of people visit these places every year. But what had drawn me to them? And is it OK to engage in such “dark tourism”? Was a visit to Chernobyl in a different category to school trips I undertook to the trenches of the First World War and concentration camps of the Holocaust? Why did I feel compelled to take a photo of the memorial at Ground Zero, anyway? Or walk through the tunnels at Hezbollah’s war museum in southern Lebanon?