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Ryugyong Hotel towering over Pyongyang's skyline

Tallest Unoccupied Building in the World


The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea is the tallest unoccupied building in the world, and it has been empty since construction started  in 1987. When economic crisis hit North Korea in 1992 the hotel was put on hold, it was estimated that the funds already sunk into the hotel were equivalent to 2% of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product. The Ryugyong’s concrete skeleton stood untouched for 16 years. During the down time in construction the building was inspected and deemed irreparable due to poor building materials and crooked elevator shafts. News of it’s already dilapidated state spread fast gaining it some nick-names which included “Hotel of Doom,” “Phantom Hotel,” and “The Worst Building in the World.”

The stagnation of the Ryugyong’s construction was ended in 2008 when the Egyptian company, Orascon Group, took over progress on the hotel. The construction was resumed as part of a $400 million telecommunications deal, which North Korea is compensating with mining rights, raw materials, and commodities. When construction was resumed, the Orascon Group reported that they did not have a difficult time remedying the structural issues within the building. In 2012 the exterior of the hotel was finished with glass but the interior was still stark concrete lacking basic utilities ground work.

If the hotel ever opens, Kempinski (a luxury hotel management company based out of Munich) might be running the show, though nothing has been signed yet. In 2012 Kempinski’s CEO, Reto Wittwer, said “This will become a money-printing machine if North Korea ever opens up.” The hotel was supposed to be complete enough to partially open in July of 2013 but it missed the date and has not released a revised time-line.

For a more stories about the Ryugyong Hotel check out these links:

Koryo Tours’ Staff became the “First Foreigners to visit the top of Ryugyong Hotel

Simon Parry, Hong Kong-based freelance journalist, took an unauthorized trip to the Ryugyong hotel