Years ago on the pages of ComingAnarchy, I profiled the Ryugong, the absurd and infamous pyramid-shaped hotel that stands incomplete and abandoned in the middle of Pyongyang, North Korea. It was planned to be completed by 1989, in which case it would have become the world’s tallest hotel (the unfinished structure was not surpassed in height by another hotel until the completion of construction on the Rose Tower in Dubai in 2009). However, construction was abandoned in 1992 and it stood at that time, with a rusting construction crane at the top as a permanent fixture, as a monument of the regime’s failure. In 2005, it was announced the hotel was to be completed with the assistance of South Korean tax dollars, but nothing was heard of those plans and I assumed that the renovation had been abandoned.
It turns out, however, that construction resumed in 2008, under supervision of an Egyptian company, the Orascom Group, which also has exclusive investments in North Korea’s mobile telephone infrastructure. It started to refurbish the hotel’s top floors and glass paneling the facades, and have recently completed the top lounge, and there are doubts about the structure’s resistance remain, especially after 16 years of exposure to weathering, which has left cracks throughout the structure. There are also reports about the quality of the building’s concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts which may be crooked.
The exterior is supposed to be complete by the end of 2010, and the idea is to have the building finished by 2012, the year of the centennial of Kim Il Sung’s birthday. An artist’s rendition of the building, although slightly wider than the actual building, goes like this:
The Ryugyong is currently the world’s 30th tallest building.