The Ryugyong Hotel is a skyscraper 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. It is currently the world’s 24th tallest building. At one time, it would have been the world’s tallest hotel.
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 for 16 years.
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 completion. Work ceased in 1992 due to electricity shortages, funding problems, the famine of 1990 and mainly because of the elevator engineering that had failed to provide service to the top floors. Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was US$750 million—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.
Though the basic structure was complete when construction came to a halt in 1992, the building shell has sat vacant and without windows, fixtures, or fittings for 16 years, with some media sources even going so far as to dub it “The Worst Building in the World.”
In September 2008, a senior North Korean official said the refurbishing of the Ryugyong Hotel will be done by 2012 – the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung. At the same time, an Orascom company official said the goal of the project was to at least give the structure’s facade a facelift and make it more attractive.
Going nowhere in North Korea