The world’s largest hotel turns 30 next year and speculation is mounting that it might mark the milestone by actually opening.
For the first time in years, the lights have come on inside North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel, adding to rumours that the regime is planning to revive the troubled 3,000-room hotel.
According to NK News, the Egyptian development company Orascom was recently flown into Pyongyang to discuss the future of the so-called “hotel of doom”. The company’s CEO, Naguib Sawiris, was rumoured to be at the meeting.
“Apparently (he’s there) for a visit to the Ryugyong to see about working on that again,” an anonymous source told the website.
By anyone’s standards, the Ryugyong Hotel has been a spectacular disaster. Work on the 105-storey, pyramid-shaped building began in 1987, as then leader, Kim Il-Sung, set his sights on developing the country’s tourism industry.
Construction cost a reported £470 million, which at the time was equivalent to two per cent of North Korea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the project was abandoned in 1992 as North Korea fell on hard times following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its leading benefactor.
According to the author Marcus Noland, who has written extensively about North Korea, an inspection by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in the Nineties concluded that the hotel was irreparable.
Poor quality concrete and crooked elevator shafts were cited as the main issues with the building.
Undeterred, the North Korean regime has tried on several occasions to revive the ill-fated hotel: in 2008 windows were finally added, and in the same year an opening date of 2012 was announced, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of “Eternal President”, Kim Il-Sung.
That didn’t happen of course but the following year the regime entered talks with the Kempinski group, which had signalled interest in opening a small luxury hotel at the top of the building.
Yet those talks also amounted to nothing and the hotel has stood empty ever since, a haunting reminder of failed ambitions.
Source: The Telegraph