Mar 27, 2020
 in 
Lifestyle

Why North Korea’s “Hotel of Doom” Never Opened

 BY 
Sergio Penguamo
T

he world is full of magnificent buildings. From Granada’s Alhambra to New York’s Empire State. Istambul’s Blue Mosque to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. And many countless others all over the planet.

“IT’S 105 FLOORS HIGH, AND FROM A DISTANCE LOOKS LIKE A GROTESQUELY ENLARGED VERSION OF THE TRANSAMERICA PYRAMID IN SAN FRANCISCO….THE CRANE AT ITS SUMMIT HASN’T MOVED IN YEARS; IT’S A GRANDIOSE AND INCOMPLETE RUIN IN THE MAKING…’UNDER CONTRUCTION’ SAYS THE GUIDES WITHOUT A TRACE OF IRONY. I SUPPOSE THEY JUST KEEP TWO SETS OF MENTAL BOOKS AND LIVE WITH THE CONTRADICTION FOR NOW.”Christopher Hitchens, Excerpt from “Love, Poverty, and War”.


In the history of humankind, there has been a desire to build great monuments that will stand the tests of time.

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain

The four special buildings mentioned above are modern-day wonders. It’s quite likely that because of their beauty, history, or spectacular architecture that you have heard of all of the examples listed. If not, you should do yourself a favor and check them out.

A Little Out of The Ordinary

Ryugyong hotel: Inside North Korea's creepy embarrassing failure
Ryugyong Hotel: The story of North Korea's 'Hotel of Doom' - CNN Style
An Inside Look of the Ryugyong Hotel

A fascinating building you may not have heard about, however, is the Ryugyong Hotel. This is partly because it is located in one of the world’s most insular and secretive countries; North Korea.

Simply being in North Korea would not make it noteworthy. The Ryungyong Hotel has a long and complicated history.

This wonderful feat of totalitarian design may never be considered a wonder of the world, but it is worthy of your attention.

Rising up out of an otherwise mundane cityscape, the Ryugyong Hotel is a spectacular sight. In any cityscape, it would stand out. Here, completely dominating everything around it, it’s not hard to see why this imposing construction has been rechristened the Hotel of Doom.

The ground was first broken on this bizarre building back in 1987. And the plan was for the end product to be completed in 1989. The hotel was due to house 3,000 rooms and feature 5 revolving restaurants with panoramic views overlooking the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Almost 35 years later, nobody has ever slept in any of its 3,000 rooms and no food has ever been served in the five restaurants that never actually existed.

The Fall of the Soviet Union

A two-year timetable to complete a 105-story hotel was ambitious, but the construction problems at the Hotel of Doom really started with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Soviets were North Korea’s main trading partner and its demise meant a prolonged period of economic hardship for the North Koreans.

Despite these difficulties, construction did continue and the outer frame of the building was completed in 1992.

With no windows or any other cladding, this meant that the hollow structure eerily dominated the capital city and it is then that the structure came to be known as the Hotel of Doom.

A New Lease On Life

The Hotel of Doom stood empty and windowless for 16 years until new work by an Egyptian company began in 2006.

This company installed the glass facade that was completed in 2011 and this is how the building still looks today, with no further work having been done on the interior.

The Hotel of Doom does now serve as a very dramatic screen for the propaganda slogans and government party symbols that have been projected onto it on a nightly basis since 2018.

That this spectacular light show has come at a construction cost of an estimated $750 million is not something the local party is probably too comfortable talking about.

It will never be an Alhambra or an Empire State, but the Hotel of Doom is a great building with a fascinating story.

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