A hotel that’s been unused and unloved for 22 years may finally be able to welcome some guests.
The Ryugyong Hotel in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang – once described as ‘the worst building in the world’ – was started in 1987 and originally scheduled to be completed in 1989, in time for the World Festival of Youth and Students.
But endless building problems, safety concerns and a shortage of money meant the hotel, shaped like a three-sided pyramid, was never completed and became a source of embarrassment to North Korea’s leaders.
Now, though, officials are determined to finish the building by April 15th 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the nation.
The building was designed to have 3,000 rooms as well as seven revolving restaurants in a 45-yard wide circular structure on top of the pyramid. A further six floors above would look out across the rest of the low-rise city. It was by far the largest building in the country and would have been the tallest hotel in the world.
North Korea has always pursued a policy of isolation and I was a bit surprised to hear there’s a tour company specialising in organising visits there. Koryo Tours, based in Beijing, arranges both independent and group tours. The company reckons that only around 1,000 Americans have visited North Korea in the past 50 years.
by Andy Moreton