Thursday, 21 December 2006

The Ryugyong 'Hotel', North Korea

Hey, check this crazy thing I just came across - its called the Ryugyong Hotel, though its a bit of a stretch to call it a hotel.

Under the personality cult of leaders Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung, North Korea has become fiercely isolationist, nationalistic, and totalitarian. Despite being one of the planet's poorest countries, the communist state looks for any achievement to boost itself in eyes of the world - hence the decision to build this ridiculously big building.

It's a massive, 105-story structure which dominates the city's skyline. It's also a massive embarrassment because it's a complete engineering failure… its empty, dilapidated husk lurks over the capital.

The hotel's story begins in 1987, when the North Korean government began construction at an estimated cost of $750 million, or 2% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). By comparison, 2% of the United States' GDP would be about $220 billion.

It has a total of 3.9 million square feet of floor space. The hotel would be the tallest hotel and seventh largest building in the world if it were finished. It would also have been the first building with over one hundred floors outside of New York or Chicago. It was planned to have 3,000 rooms and 7 revolving restaurants, scheduled to open in June 1989 - but construction came to a halt in 1992 due to lack of funding, acute electricity shortages and a massive famine.

The shell of the building is complete but it has not been certified as safe for occupancy. There are no windows, fixtures, or fittings. The extremely poor quality concrete used in its construction has left the building sagging to such a great degree that the structure can never be finished without a massive overhaul.

I'm just blown away by this thing.

Check out the satellite picture of the 'hotel' here and a video of it here

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