The Ryugong

The Ryugong/Ryugyong Hotel is one of the most unsettling structures erected in the modern age. Standing 1,082 feet tall with 105 floors, it sticks out of the Pyongyang skyline like a jagged knife, the North Korea version of a totalitarian Empire State Building. If there was any kernel of doubt in your mind that North Korea was a very, very wrong country, allow me to put it to rest.

Everything about the structure is soooo North Korean. It’s shaped like a steep pyramid with architecture that invokes evil with every angle. It has no windows. And although it’s the most imposing building in Pyongyang, it’s empty. The North Korean government began construction in 1987 (at an estimated cost of $750 million, or 2% of their total GDP) only to stop work in 1992 because the building is structurally unsound. The building will never be completed, but the surrounding area is too densely populated and developed to knock the hotel down. For more than a decade, the water-stained concrete block has stood there as an ever-present reminder that when it comes to anything productive, North Korea falls totally flat.

There are images of the damn creepy thing all over the internet, so I just chose two that show how menacing Ryugyong looks, and how it imposes on the Pyongyang skyline.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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4 Responses to The Ryugong

  1. Saru says:

    “We are so great!”

    Aren’t they? ;-)

  2. Mutantfrog says:

    Wow, it does almost as much damage to the cityscape as the Kyoto Tower!

  3. Curzon says:

    Almost??? C’mon, it ain’t in the same class…

    Although it’s funny, I remember a German friend in Kyoto who once said “The best place to see the Kyoto skyline is from Kyoto Tower.”

    My response: “That eyesore? Why?”

    Him: “It’s the only place in Kyoto you can’t see it!”

  4. Pingback: » Blog Archive » The Ryugong to be completed!