North Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom’ still unfinished

North Korea’s notorious pyramid-shaped hotel, dubbed the ‘Hotel of Doom’, is still incomplete, even though work was begun on it 25 years ago.

Details of the strange-shaped hotel were not available to the outside world until now. Some details, and perhaps the first views of its interior, have now become accessible to the world through a Chinese media company that has been allowed access to it.

Beijing-based Koryo Tours was given the chance of viewing the interior of the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, which is located in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Work on the hotel started in the 1980s, with the intention of making it the tallest tower in the world. However, work had to be suspended on the site because of a cash shortage, political instability, the crash of the Soviet Union and mismanagement. Work on the site was totally stalled in the 1990s when the government had to attend to immediate needs such as food shortages and internal issues. However, exterior construction resumed three years ago, and nobody has been allowed to go inside the hotel since. Koryo Tours said that the hotel would open to the public in two to three years time.

The hotel has received its fair share of ridicule from the outside world, including its ‘Hotel of Doom’ nickname, after its launch received a great deal of publicity. Esquire magazine even labelled it the ‘worst building in the history of mankind.’ No news was released regarding the progress of the hotel until reports emerged last year that it could be inaugurated by April to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim il-sung.

The project has also received much criticism from internal sources. Once considered to be a status symbol for North Korea, the hotel’s image was carried on its national stamps. However, as criticism against the project grew, even official members of the regime sidestepped the project and removed it from official photographs.