Yanggakdo International Hotel

Coordinates: 38°59′56.16″N 125°45′4.15″E / 38.9989333°N 125.7511528°E / 38.9989333; 125.7511528
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Yanggakdo International Hotel
Korean name
Revised RomanizationYanggakdo Gukje Hotel
McCune–ReischauerYanggakto Kukche Hot'el

The Yanggakdo International Hotel is the largest operating hotel in North Korea, pending the completion of the Ryugyong Hotel, and the country's seventh- or eighth-tallest building.[1][2][3] The hotel is located on Yanggak Island in the River Taedong, two kilometres (1.2 mi) to the south-east of the centre of Pyongyang, the nation's capital. It rises to an overall height of 170 metres (560 ft) and has a slowly revolving restaurant on the 47th floor.[4]

This hotel is North Korea's first luxury hotel, costing around $350 USD per night for a typical twin-bed room.[dubious ] The structure was built between 1986 and 1992 by France's Campenon Bernard Construction Company and opened in 1996.


Besides housing the reception, the ground floor offers the purchase of North Korean currency sets, postcards and letters, and basic commodities at Western prices. There is a bar and a bookshop which stocks North Korean reading material including treatises of Presidents Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.[5]

In addition to the revolving restaurant, the hotel guide issued to guests indicates that the hotel contains four further restaurants on the second floor: dining-rooms one and two, the main banquet hall, and the Japanese, Chinese and Korean food dining-rooms.[6]

The basement contains a bowling alley,[5] a pool room, a sauna, a swimming pool, a barber shop, a casino, and a massage club.[5]

The price of the hotel is $499 a night for two adults. The hotel's grounds originally included a 9,000-square-metre (97,000 sq ft) nine-hole golf course. In 2011 the golf course was demolished to make space for a Chinese-funded health complex to be built.[7][8] Also located on Yanggak Island, next to the hotel's grounds, is the Pyongyang International Cinema Hall,[5] one of the main venues for the Pyongyang International Film Festival.[9] The Yanggakdo International Hotel is a standard stop on most tours of North Korea.[citation needed]

Fifth floor[edit]

The fifth floor of the hotel has been a source of curiosity among foreigners because it is off-limits to hotel guests.[10] The elevators do not stop on the fifth floor; hence, there is no fifth-floor button on the elevator panel.[1] The fifth floor has occasionally been visited "unofficially" via staircase by tourists exploring the hotel. It is reported to be further split into two separate floors, with mostly locked rooms, and is decorated with propaganda posters.[11][12] Tourists have also reported seeing surveillance equipment apparently used to observe guests' rooms.[13] One Western travel agency specialising in tours of North Korea has described the fifth floor as "actually just a service level much like would be found in any hotel, and strictly off limits to tourists."[14]

Otto Warmbier incident[edit]

On 2 January 2016, a visiting American university student, Otto Warmbier, was arrested on a charge of attempting to steal a political propaganda banner from a restricted area of the hotel. Although some media reports speculated that the incident had occurred on the hotel's fifth floor,[13][15] Warmbier himself indicated in a confession that he took down the banner from a staff-only area of the second floor of the hotel, but abandoned the item after discovering it was too large to carry away.[16] Staff members from the hotel testified against Warmbier at his trial.[17] On 16 March 2016, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment with hard labor. After seventeen months in captivity, it was revealed that Warmbier had suffered severe brain damage, and he was brought back to the United States in June 2017, dying six days later.[18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Robert (April 25, 2013). "A Creepy Journey To The Hidden 5th Floor Of A Pyongyang Hotel". Business Insider. New York City. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "Pyongyang". SkyscraperPage.com. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  3. ^ "North Korea". The Skyscraper Center. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  4. ^ Hunwick, Robert Foyle (4 September 2013). "Getting Drunk in North Korea". The Atlantic.
  5. ^ a b c d Moxley, Mitch (October 2, 2014). "The North Korean Hotel That Feels Like Alcatraz". GQ. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  6. ^ "Hotel Review: Yanggakdo International Hotel, Pyongyang". LoyaltyLobby. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2018. Facilities list
  7. ^ Sthankiya, Nayan. "North Koreans Eager to Play Golf as Well". Seoul Times. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  8. ^ "Yanggakdo Golf Course is no more…". North Korean Economy Watch. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  9. ^ Pang Un Ju (26 September 2014). "Pyongyang film festival brings film-makers closer". The Pyongyang Times. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  10. ^ Choi, Ha-young (29 February 2016). "U.S. student tried to steal N.Korean poster at hotel: KCNA". NK News. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2023. Going there [the fifth floor] in itself is not a crime, it's a breach of hotel rules...
  11. ^ Koenigs, Michael (24 June 2017). "Tour of the 'hidden' 5th floor of North Korea's Yanggakdo Hotel". ABC News.
  12. ^ "Creepy North Korea: The Hidden 5th Floor…". The Monsoon Diaries. August 23, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Mohan, Megha (18 June 2018). "Inside the North Korean place that 'doesn't exist'". BBC News. This room had lights coming from inside and we saw security cameras, TV screens that seemed to show the inside of bedrooms and what looked like surveillance equipment. I now began to think that this floor was where the hotel staff reportedly kept equipment to surveil guests.
  14. ^ "Yanggakdo Hotel". Young Pioneer Tours. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  15. ^ Bowden, George (16 March 2016). "The Eerie 5th Floor Of A Pyongyang Hotel Captivating Foreigners". HuffPost UK. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018.
  16. ^ Ripley, Will (February 29, 2016). "U.S. student held in North Korea 'confesses'". CNN. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017.
  17. ^ Nevett, Joshua (March 18, 2016). "North Korea releases CCTV of American student committing 'crime'". Mirror Online. MGN Limited. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  18. ^ Clark, Doug Bock (July 23, 2018). "The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage". GQ. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2018.

External links[edit]

38°59′56.16″N 125°45′4.15″E / 38.9989333°N 125.7511528°E / 38.9989333; 125.7511528