If you’ve got more than even a passing interest in the DPRK (North Korea), then you’ve without doubt heard about the Ryugyong Hotel. There’s a lot of myth and half-truths about the Ryugyong Hotel, so we’re here to set them straight! Here’s the YPT guide to the history of the world’s tallest unoccupied building: the Ryugyong Hotel.
The construction of the Ryugyong Hotel started in 1987, and was intended to be finished in time for the World Festival of Youth and Students, which took place in Pyongyang in 1989. Some say it was Pyongyang’s answer to Seoul hosting the 1988 Olympics.
Around the early 90s a few major events happened in the countries we used to the call the Soviet Union, and alas funding dried up. Construction on the Ryugyong Hotel officially ceased in 1992, and its concrete shell was given the unfortunate moniker of “the hotel of doom” by legendary great hacks at the Daily Mail. Personally, we see its aesthetic beauty.
From 1992 – 2008, very little happened. But in 2008 the Egyptian company Orascom, as part of their deal to build the cellphone network of North Korea, started to add outer cladding (glass). This was finally completed in 2011.
And as for now? Right now it looks great! There’s windows outside, the iconic cranes at the top are gone, and quite often – especially during national holidays – there are great picture opportunities when the government light it up with the DPRK flag.
And the future? There are often conflicting stories; sometimes we see work getting done there, and sometimes we are told they will open 6, 12, or even 24 floors. We sadly don’t know the exact answer, but in our minds at least we hope at least some floors are opened so that the Ryugyong Hotel will no longer be the world’s largest unoccupied building.