What Is Unique About The Ryugyong Hotel In North Korea?

The Ryugyong Hotel stands out prominently in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang.
The Ryugyong Hotel stands out prominently in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang.

Ryugyong Hotel, also known as the Ryu-Gyong or Yu-Kyung Hotel, is a 105-floor hotel under construction in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Standing at 1,080 feet in a pyramid shape, the skyscraper hotel is also sometimes called the "105 Building" owing to its number of floors. The hotel is notable for having been under construction for nearly three decades thanks to financial and political setbacks.

Origin Of The Ryugyong Hotel

The construction of the Ryugyong Hotel was initially a Cold War supremacy response to Singapore’s completion of the then-tallest hotel in the world in 1986, called the Westin Stamford Hotel. The Westin Stamford Hotel was designed by South Korean architects. Ryungyong’s construction laid on the hopes of a 230 million dollars fund from the Soviet Union for what Pyongyang had promised to be a "Western-like lifestyle" in the premises.

Construction Of The Ryugyong Hotel

The Ryugyong Hotel has taken the North Korean government almost three decades to construct, with still no end in sight. Construction of the building started in 1987 with the intention to first be opened in time for the 13th World Festival of Youths and Students in 1989. Further delays occurred in 1992 because of economic crisis after the fall of the former Soviet Union who had been sponsoring Pyongyang economically. Between 1992 and 2008, the iconic building graced Pyongyang’s skyline with no windows or appropriate internal furnishings.

Construction work resumed in 2008 and engineers managed to complete the exterior by 2011. The grand opening was scheduled for 2012 to coincide with “Eternal President” Kim II-Sung’s 100th birthday anniversary, but this was postponed for the second time to 2013 before being canceled indefinitely. The hotel has yet to be opened.

Records Set By The Ryugyong Hotel

Ryugyong Hotel is perceived to be the tallest, most iconic and prominent building in North Korea. The unfinished structure once held the title as the world’s tallest hotel building until 2009 when it was overtaken by the Rose Tower of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Currently, Ryugyong is number 63 in the list of the tallest hotel buildings in the world with the 10th most number of floors. However, Ryugyong still holds the record as the tallest unoccupied building in the world.

Features Of The Ryugyong Hotel

The Ryugyong Hotel has three wings with each measuring 330 feet long and 59 feet wide. The pyramid slopes form a perfect angle of 75 degrees converging at a sharp point at the peak of the building. Ryugyong Hotel is topped by a shortened cone that is 130 feet wide housing eight floors that, upon occupation, will be rotating at a slow speed and six top most floors that are designed to remain motionless. In the original plan, the rotating part of the cone was designed to house five restaurants and thousands of guest rooms. Ryugyong was designed to be a self-sustaining building with restaurants, residential apartments, and business facilities.

Criticism Of The Building

What was to be the tallest hotel building in the world lies abandoned with no clue being given to when it will be operational. North Korea’s silence on the project has led to many speculations with western media terming the 105 Building as the “world’s worst building,” “Hotel of Doom” and “Phantom Hotel.” There have been questions about the Hotel's structural integrity and safety with EU Chamber of Commerce inspectors concluding that the building cannot be repaired. Japanese National News reported that construction of the hotel consumed closed to 3 percent of North Korea’s GDP.


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