Pattaya Daily News

20 September 2010 :: 09:09:32 am 39396

North Korea’s Abandoned Ryugyong Hotel

Since the rule of Kim Il-sung and followed by his son Kim Jong-il, North Korea has become isolated, insular and autocratic. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, the communist state looks to any achievement to boost its image to other countries. The people of North Korea are unaware of other nations except that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is much superior.
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North Korea is one of the most secretive countries of the world and contact with a person from another country can mean time in prison or worse, but there is a secret that the country cannot hide from the world due to its vast size.  It is the 105 storey structure of the Ryugyong Hotel that dominates the skyline, but was never completed.

For over a decade, the large concrete structure sat unfinished without windows, fixture or fittings with a rusting construction crane sitting on top. Work began in 1987 at an estimated cost of $750 million and was scheduled to open in June 1989 for the World Festival of Youth and Students, but it was later abandoned in 1992, due to the economic disruptions that affected the country following the fall of the Soviet Union.

The building was to house seven revolving restaurants within its 105 floors and would have been the tallest hotel in the world, but the building sat unfinished until work resumed in April 2008 by an Egyptian Company the Orascom Group which has invested heavily in the North Koreans mobile telephony and construction industries. Exterior work is expected to end in 2010, with work on the interior finishing in 2012.

Inspection of the building in the 90’s, showed that the structure was irreparable, the quality of the concrete inferior and the elevator shaft was said to be crooked. Regardless of the poor quality of the building and the lack of a safety certificate for occupancy, Orascom’s chief operational officer noted that work on the interior would continue and the revolving restaurant placed at the top.

The North Koreans’ construction of the hotel was a cold war response to South Koreas’ towering Stamford Hotel in Singapore, with hopes of investments from western investors. The hotel was added to North Koreans official city maps before the project had started and postage stamps, depicting the hotel, issued before work was halfway through.

The North Korean government is still on the lookout for foreign investors, but will find it hard due to the country’s restriction of tourists and their never ending drought and famine.

Reggie Colbeck

Photo : PDN staff   Category : Lifestyle

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