Ryugyong Hotel

Ryugyong Hotel

Infobox Skyscraper
building_name = Ryugyong Hotel

location = Pyongyang, North Korea
groundbreaking = 1987
status =
coordinates = Coord|39|02|11|N|125|43|50|E|display=inline,title|type:landmark
est_completion = Unknown
antenna_spire = 330 m (1,083 ft)
roof = 330 m (1,083 ft)
top_floor =
height_of_concrete_section = m to ft|330|abbr=yes|spell=0|precision=0|wiki=no
floor_count = 105
floor_area = m2 to ft2|360000|abbr=yes|spell=0|precision=-2|wiki=yes
developer = flagicon|North Korea North Korea
architect = Baekdu Mountain Architects & Engineers
contractor = Baekdu Mountain Architects & Engineers
Infobox Korean name
context = north

hangul = 류경 호텔
hanja = 柳京 호텔
rr = Ryugyeong Hotel
mr = Ryugyŏng Hot'el

The Ryugyong Hotel ( _ko. 류경호텔)(or Ryu-Gyong Hotel or Yu-Kyung Hotel)Fact|date=May 2008 is an unfinished concrete skyscraper. It is intended for use as a hotel 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 to a height of 330 m (1,083 ft), and it contains 360,000 m² (3.9 million square feet) of floor space, making it the most prominent feature of the city’s skyline and by far the largest structure in the country.Fact|date=October 2008 At one time, it would have been the world's tallest hotel.cite news |first=Dan |last=Beckmann |title=Pyongyang: Home to the Tallest Hotel in the World That Could, but Will Never Be |url=http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=2590901 |work=ABC News |publisher=The Walt Disney Company |date=2006-10-23 |accessdate=2008-02-05 ] "Esquire" dubbed it "The Worst Building in the History of Mankind" and noted that the government of North Korea has airbrushed the building out of pictures. The "Christian Science Monitor" called it "one of the most expensive white elephants in history". ["First Signs of Change in Dour Capital"; Christian Science Monitor.Boston, Mass.: Aug 26, 1992.] Over the years, the skyscraper has earned such nicknames as the "Hotel of Doom," "Phantom Hotel," and "Phantom Pyramid."cite news |last=Hagberg |first=Eva |url=http://www.esquire.com/the-side/DESIGN/worst-hotel-ever-012808 |title=The Worst Building in the History of Mankind |work=Esquire |date=2008-01-28 |accessdate=2008-01-31 |publisher=Hearst Corporation] Construction began in 1987 and ceased in 1992, due to the government's financial difficulties. The unfinished hotel remained untouched until April 2008, when construction resumed after being inactive 16 years. [cite news|url=http://www.hotelsmag.com/articleXML/LN794108896.html|title=N. Korea resumes construction of luxury hotel |date=2008-05-20 |publisher=Reed Business Information |work=Hotels |accessdate=2008-05-28]


The building's plan for a 105-story height was reportedly a Cold War response to a South Korean company's completion of the Westin 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 a hoped-for US$230 million 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."cite journal| last=Ngor| first=Oh Kwee| date=1990-06-09| title=Western decadence hits N. Korea| journal=The Japan Economic Journal| pages=12]


Construction on this pyramid-shaped hotel began in 1987 by Baekdu Mountain Architects & Engineers. [cite web|url=http://www.emporis.com/en/cd/cm/?id=101019|title=Companies - Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers|accessdate=2007-04-19|publisher=Emporis] The reinforced concrete structure consists of three wings, the face of each wing measuring 100 m (328 ft) long and 18 m (59 ft) wide, which converge at a common point to form a pinnacle. At the top is a 40 m (131 ft) wide circular structure which contains eight floors intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. A construction crane is perched at the top, and has assumed the role of a permanent fixture. The hotel is surrounded by a number of pavilions, gardens, and terraces. Its walls slope at a steep 75 degree angle. It was added to maps and North Korean postage stamps before it was half-finished.

Building deadlock

The Ryugyong's planned 3,000 rooms and seven revolving restaurants were scheduled 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 US$750 millioncite journal| title=North Korea builds record-height hotel| month=November 15| year=1990| journal=Engineering News-Record| pages=41] —equivalent to 2% of North Korea’s GDP. Official pictures of Pyongyang often show the building illuminated at night, but this is due to photo manipulation. [such as in Pyongyang, 1990, Foreign Languages Publishing House, and many other books about the city] There had been some question about whether North Korea had the raw materials, energy or financing for such a massive project.

Recent history

The basic structure is complete, but no windows, fixtures, or fittings were installed when construction came to a halt in 1992, and it has never been certified safe for occupancy. The concrete originally used to build the hotel was of substandard quality, and at one point, according to ABC News, it was actually crumbling. The hotel is so massive that it is clearly visible from nearly everywhere in the city, but it is nearly impossible to get anyone to talk about it. It is often seen as a metaphor of the highly secretive nature of North Korea. [cite web| url = http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=490 | title = North Korea's "Secret" Hotel | publisher = Damn Interesting | author = Greg Bjerg| date = 2006-04-06] Former CNN reporter Mike Chinoy likened it to the giant calcium deposit on the neck of late dictator Kim Il-sung. Like the Ryugyong, the growth was clearly visible despite official attempts to hide it from view. "Esquire" called the hotel a colossal economic failure, likening it to what would have happened had Chicago's John Hancock Center been left unfinished with no prospect of being completed.

After 16 years of inactivity, foreign residents in Pyongyang noted that Egypt's Orascom Group started refurbishing the top floors of the hotel in April 2008. Though the effect on the architecture has yet to be determined, windows and telecommunications antennae were observed being installed. [cite web| url = http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080717/lf_nm_life/korea_north_hotel_dc| title = North Korea's "Hotel of Doom" wakes from its coma| publisher = Yahoo! News| author = Herskovitz, Jon| date = 2008-07-17|accessdate = 2008-07-18] The Orascom Telecom subsidiary of the group confirmed involvement in the structure to begin developing GSM infrastructure in North Korea for up to 100,000 initial subscribers. [cite web| url = http://www.cellular-news.com/story/32458.php | title = Orascom Using Pyongyang's Ryugyong Hotel for Nth Korean 3G Network | publisher = Cellular News | date = 2008-07-17] Only government officials are presently permitted to use mobile phones and the service has been banned from use by ordinary citizens and foreigners since 2002. [cite web| url = http://3gweek.net/2008/02/05/egypts-orascom-win-north-korea-telecom-wireless-service-bid/ | title = Egypt’s Orascom win North Korea telecom wireless service bid | publisher = Asia's Mobile News | date = 2008-02-05]

ee also

* Hotel Rossiya
* White elephant
* Cost overrun
* List of Korea-related topics
* Korean architecture


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