Will North Korea’s “Hotel of Doom” ever be completed?
For over 20 years, Pyongyang’s skyline has suffered the outline of the markedly menacing, infamously ugly structure known as the “Hotel of Doom.” The ominous building is essentially a three-sided pyramid with walls that jag upwards at 75 degrees, capped by a series of concentric rings. Newspapers and magazines have described the structure as “the worst building in the history of mankind” and an ”Evil Lair for Kim Jong Il” however it is properly known as the Ryugyong Hotel.
Construction began in 1987, right as the Soviet block was crumbling across the continent. The building halted for 16 years when the North Korean economy and subsequent funding for the hotel collapsed, leaving the obtuse, cement shell of a gigantic building, looming over the nations capitol city.
Graciously, the state flexed it’s policy of economic isolation in 2008 by allowing an Egyptian conglomerate to supervise the rebuilding work. The firm, Orascom Telecom, took over the project as part of a 400 million dollar deal with exclusive option to modernize North Korea’s archaic cell phone market.
Dozens of Egyptian engineers and some 2,000 local workers have labored to enclose the tower of doom from outside elements. Now the outside of the building is covered in shimmering glass, which, from a distance, looks futuristic and luxurious.
But upon further inspection, one can see the unmitigated disaster this project has been for the centrally planned economy of the North Korean state: photos taken this month reveal an empty cement interior.
Conceived as a grandiose projection of state wealth, the hotel instead became a symbol of the harsh failings of a centrally planned state with no investment capitol. As the North Korean state has flexed it’s policy of economic isolation, the Hotel of Doom presents a fitting allegory for the concept of the communist state: appealing, intriguing, and modern from afar, but an utterly hollow disaster on the inside.
330m (1,083ft) high, 105 floors
Construction started 1987, halted from 1993-2008
External works completed 2012
Internal works, beyond 2012