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Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea

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Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea

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Date Posted:September 18th, 2005
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Description: The Ryugyong Hotel (or Ryu-Gyong Hotel) is a towering, empty concrete shell in Sojang-dong, in the Potong-gang District of Pyongyang, North Korea. The hotel's name comes from one of the historic names for Pyongyang: Ryugyong, or "capital of willows". Its 105 stories rise some 330 m (1,083 ft), and it boasts some 360,000 m (3.9 million ft) of floor space, making it the most prominent feature of the city's skyline and by far the largest structure in that country. If the building were ever completed it would be one of the world's largest hotels, and one of the world's largest buildings overall. Today, however, it remains unfinished and uninhabited.

Construction on the pyramid-shaped hotel began in 1987. Its 105-story planned height was reportedly a Cold War response to a South Korean company's completion of the Stamford Hotel in Singapore the previous year. North Korean leadership envisioned the project as a channel for Western investors to step into the marketplace. A firm, the Ryugyong Hotel Investment and Management Co., was established to attract $230 million dollars in foreign investment. A representative for the North Korean government promised relaxed oversight, saying, "The foreign investors can even operate casinos, nightclubs or Japanese lounges if they want to."[1]

The Ryugyong's 3,000 rooms and 7 revolving restaurants were to open in June 1989 for the World Festival of Youth and Students, but problems with building methods and materials delayed it. Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million[2]2% of North Korea's GDP and it is generally assumed construction came to a halt in 1992 due to lack of funding, acute electricity shortages, and the prevailing famine. The basic structure is complete, but no windows, fixtures or fittings have been installed. According to Emporis, the concrete used in building the Ryugyong Hotel is of unsuitable quality and therefore is unsafe.

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