Ryugyong Hotel: North Korea’s £470m ‘Hotel of Doom’ might finally open 30 years after construction began

The world’s tallest unoccupied building has undergone some renovation work, suggesting it might be on the way to opening

Helen Coffey
Tuesday 01 August 2017 10:41
Lights on at North Korea's 105-storey hotel

North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel, which hasn’t hosted a single guest since construction started in 1987, has recently shown some signs of life, suggesting it could finally open its doors in the not-too-distant future.

Nicknamed the ‘Hotel of Doom’ due to decades of delays – and rumours that the building may not be structurally sound – the 330m, 105-storey pyramid is the tallest unoccupied building in the world.

The Ryugyong Hotel remains mysteriously closed

Work on the infamous hotel in Pyongyang began 30 years ago when Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, kickstarted the project. The plan was to open the hotel in 1989 as the tallest hotel in the world and the seventh largest skyscraper, boasting casinos, nightclubs and Japanese lounges. However, construction issues, followed by the fall of the Soviet Union and subsequent economic crisis in 1992, resulted in the doors remaining closed.

New walkways and propaganda posters have been spotted

The following decade saw work re-start, with the new aim being to officially open the Ryugyong Hotel in 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of “Eternal President” Kim Il-Sung. The landmark year came and went and the hotel remained shut – but window panes and a telecommunication mast were added by Orascom, an Egyptian development company, giving hope that it might eventually be ready for guests.

In December 2016 rumours that the hotel might be gearing up for opening were sparked after locals spotted lights on in the building for the first time in years. Now things have progressed a step further, with two new walkways and a new propaganda sign about North Korea's latest nuclear missile launches having been added.

In the week leading up to the Korean War armistice anniversary on 27 July, “soldier-builders” were seen behind the walls around the hotel, as was digging equipment and new propaganda billboards.

However, officials have given no information about when the Ryugyong Hotel, which reportedly cost £470 million to build, might finally be ready.

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