Is North Korea’s ‘Hotel Of Doom’ Really Nearing Completion?

As a metaphor for North Korean society, the Ryugyong Hotel — the so-called “Hotel of Doom” — is hard to beat. While the pyramid-shaped hotel presents a shiny, impressive façade that looks over the capital Pyongyang, the inside of the hotel speaks volumes about North Korea’s thwarted ambitions.

That’s because the 105-story Ryugyong has been under construction for 25 years yet is still nowhere near completion. Now, rare images of the hotel’s interior have emerged, revealing vast, uninhabited concrete lobbies surrounded by barriers at the edge of each floor.

The sparse interior has no sign of cabling, pipes, or wiring, and furnishings are nowhere to be seen. The inside of the Ryugyong is, by all accounts, a building site (with, it would seem in the pictures, a lack of any builders).

The two photos below were snapped by Koryo Tours, a Beijing-based company that specializes in travel to North Korea. Koryo has said the hotel — variously nicknamed the “Hotel of Doom” or “The Phantom Hotel” — will open in two to three years time.

Such predictions have been made before however. North Korea began constructing the Ryugyong hotel in 1987 in a bid to present an image of prosperity and power to the world. However, other economic priorities, including the North Korean famine of the 1990’s, meant construction ground to a halt for 16 years.


Work on the hotel began again in 2008, with a projected completion date of 2010 for the hotel’s exterior. The interior was forecast to take until 2012 at the earliest to complete.

Yet as these pictures show, North Korea’s Hotel of Doom is unlikely to hit its latest target completion date.

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