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Ryugyong Hotel

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Ryugyong Hotel
Ryugyong Hotel - August 27, 2011 (Cropped).jpg
The Ryugyong Hotel in August 2011
General information
Location Pyongyang, North Korea
Coordinates 39°02′11″N 125°43′50″E / 39.03639°N 125.73056°E / 39.03639; 125.73056Coordinates: 39°02′11″N 125°43′50″E / 39.03639°N 125.73056°E / 39.03639; 125.73056
Construction started 1987[1]
Topped-out 1992[2]
Estimated completion TBA
Roof 330.02 metres (1,082.7 ft)[2]
Technical details
Floor count 105[2]
Floor area 360,000 m2 (3,900,000 sq ft)[2]
Design and construction
Architect Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers[1]
Developer Orascom Group
Main contractor Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers (1987–1992)[1]
Orascom Construction Industries (2008–present)[3]
Ryugyong Hotel
S: 호텔
Hancha 호텔
Revised Romanization Ryugyeong Hotel
S: Yugyeong Hotel
McCune–Reischauer Ryugyŏng Hot'el
S: Yugyŏng Hot'el

The Ryugyong Hotel (Korean: 류경호텔) (sometimes anglicised as Ryu-Gyong Hotel or Yu-Kyung Hotel[5]) is a 105-storey pyramid-shaped skyscraper under construction in Pyongyang, North Korea. Its name ("capital of willows") is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang.[6] The building is also known as the 105 Building, a reference to its number of floors.[2] Construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

After 1992 the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008 construction resumed. In 2011, the exterior was completed. The opening of the hotel has been scheduled several times but postponed.


The Ryugyong Hotel has a height of 330 metres (1,080 ft), making it the most prominent feature of Pyongyang's skyline and by far the tallest structure in North Korea. Construction of the Ryugyong was intended to be completed in time for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in June 1989; had this been achieved, it would have held the title of world's tallest hotel. The unfinished building was not surpassed in height by any new hotel until the 2009 completion of the spire atop the Rose Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Ryugyong Hotel is currently the world's 49th tallest building (alongside the China World Trade Center Tower III) in terms of total height and has the 7th highest number of floors.

The building consists of three wings, each measuring 100 metres (330 ft) long, 18 metres (59 ft) wide, and sloped at a 75‑degree angle, which converge at a common point to form a pinnacle. The building is topped by a truncated cone 40 metres (130 ft) wide, consisting of eight floors that are intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. The structure was originally intended to house five revolving restaurants, and either 3,000 or 7,665 guest rooms, according to different sources.[7][8] According to Orascom's Khaled Bichara in 2009, the Ryugyong will not be just a hotel, but rather a mixed-use development, including "revolving restaurant" facilities along with a "mixture of hotel accommodation, apartments and business facilities".[3]


Construction begins[edit]

The plan for a large hotel was reportedly a Cold War response to the completion of the world's tallest hotel, the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore, in 1986 by the South Korean company SsangYong Group.[9] North Korean leadership envisioned the project as a channel for Western investors to step into the marketplace.[9] A firm, the Ryugyong Hotel Investment and Management Co., was established to attract a hoped-for $230 million in foreign investment.[9] A representative for the North Korean government promised relaxed oversight, allowing "foreign investors [to] operate casinos, nightclubs or Japanese lounges".[9] North Korean construction firm Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers (also known as Baekdu Mountain Architects and Engineers) began construction on a pyramid-shaped hotel in 1987.[1][10]

Construction halts[edit]

The hotel was scheduled to open in June 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, but problems with building methods and materials delayed completion.[11] Had it opened on schedule, it would have surpassed the Westin Stamford Hotel to become the world's tallest hotel,[12] and would have been the seventh-tallest building in the world.[2]

In 1992, after the building had reached its full architectural height,[2] work was halted due to the economic crisis in North Korea following the collapse of the Soviet bloc.[3] Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million,[13] consuming 2 percent of North Korea’s GDP.[14] For over a decade, the unfinished building sat vacant and without windows, fixtures, or fittings, appearing as a massive concrete shell.[2] A rusting construction crane at the top, which the BBC called "a reminder of the totalitarian state's thwarted ambition",[3] became a permanent fixture.[15] According to Marcus Noland, in the late 1990s, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea inspected the building and concluded that the structure was irreparable.[16] Questions were raised regarding the quality of the building's concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts,[3] which some sources said were "crooked".[8]

In a 2006 article, ABC News questioned whether North Korea had sufficient raw materials or energy for such a massive project.[12] A North Korean government official told the Los Angeles Times in 2008 that construction was not completed "because [North Korea] ran out of money".[17]

The halt in construction, the rumours of problems and the mystery about its future led media sources to dub it "The Worst Building in the World",[14][18] "Hotel of Doom" and "Phantom Hotel".[3]

View of the top in September 2008, several months after construction resumed

Construction resumes[edit]

In April 2008, after 16 years of inactivity, work on the building was restarted by the Egyptian company Orascom Group.[19][20] Orascom, which has entered into a US$400 million deal with the North Korean government to build and run a 3G mobile phone network, denied that their telecommunications deal was directly related to the Ryugyong Hotel work.[3] In 2008 North Korean officials stated that the hotel would be completed by 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the "Eternal President", Kim Il-sung.[15] In 2009, Orascom's COO Khaled Bichara noted that they "had not had too many problems" resolving the reported structural issues of the building, and that a revolving restaurant will be located at the top of the building.[3]

In July 2011, it was reported that the exterior work was complete.[21] Features that Orascom has installed include exterior glass panels and telecommunications antennas.[22] In September 2012 photographs taken by Koryo Tours were released, showing the interior for the very first time. There were very few fixtures or furnishings.[23][24] In November 2012 international hotel operator Kempinski announced it would be running the hotel which was expected to partially open in mid-2013.[25][26] However, these plans were put on hold with heightened tensions in 2013.[27]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Orascom and DPRK to Complete Ryugyong Hotel Construction". The Institute for Far Eastern Studies. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2010-02-09. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ryugyong Hotel". Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Will 'Hotel of Doom' ever be finished?". BBC News (BBC). 15 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  4. ^ Ryugyong Hotel at Emporis
  5. ^ "105 Building, Pyongyang, Korea, North". Asian Historical Architecture. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  6. ^ Funabashi, Yoichi (2007). The Peninsula Question: A Chronicle of the Second Northern Korean Nuclear Crisis. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-8157-3010-1. 
  7. ^ Randl, Chad (2008). Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings That Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-56898-681-4. 
  8. ^ a b Quinones, C. Kenneth; Joseph Taggert (2003). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding North Korea. Complete Idiot's Guides. Indianapolis: Alpha Books. p. 183. ISBN 1-59257-169-7. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ngor, Oh Kwee (1990-06-09). "Western decadence hits N. Korea". Japan Economic Journal: 12. 
  10. ^ Cramer, James P.; Jennifer Evans Yankopolus, ed. (2006). Almanac of Architecture & Design (7th ed.). Atlanta, Georgia: Greenway Publications. p. 368. ISBN 0-9755654-2-7. 
  11. ^ Foreign Staff (16 October 2009). "North Korean hotel dubbed the 'worst building in the world' may finally be finished - Telegraph". Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Beckmann, Dan (2006-10-23). "Pyongyang: Home to the Tallest Hotel in the World That Could, but Will Never Be". ABC News (The Walt Disney Company). Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  13. ^ "North Korea builds record-height hotel". Engineering News-Record: 41. November 15, 1990. 
  14. ^ a b Hagberg, Eva (28 January 2008). "The Worst Building in the History of Mankind". Esquire. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  15. ^ a b Kirk, Donald (27 October 2008). "Grand Illusion". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  16. ^ Noland, Marcus (2000). Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics. p. 82. ISBN 0-88132-278-4. 
  17. ^ Demick, Barbara (2008-09-27). "North Korea in the midst of mysterious building boom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  18. ^ Herskovitz, Jon (18 July 2008). "North Koreans revamp 'world's worst building'". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media). Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  19. ^ "Korea: N Korea Resumes Construction Of Luxury Hotel". MySinchew. 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  20. ^ Staff (15 October 2009). "Will 'Hotel of Doom' ever be finished?". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  21. ^ Samuel Medina (2011-07-22). "Ryugyong Hotel Exterior Completed". architizer. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  22. ^ Herskovitz, Jon (2008-07-17). "North Korea's "Hotel of Doom" wakes from its coma". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  23. ^ BBC News | North Korea's Ryugyong 'Hotel of Doom' pictures released
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Ryugyong Hotel Opening Next Year?". Huffington Post. 2012-11-01. 
  26. ^ Yoon, Sangwon (1 November 2012). "Kempinski to Operate World’s Tallest Hotel in North Korea". Bloomberg. 
  27. ^

External links[edit]