The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea is a towering structure that has been the subject of much speculation and controversy. With its unique design and complex engineering, many have questioned whether it is structurally sound.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, the Ryugyong Hotel is structurally sound. However, it has faced numerous delays and setbacks in its construction, and its ultimate fate remains uncertain.

In this article, we will explore the history and construction of the Ryugyong Hotel, examine the engineering behind its design, and discuss the controversies and challenges that have surrounded it. We will also look at the current state of the building and what the future may hold.

History and Construction

The Ryugyong Hotel, also known as the “Hotel of Doom,” is a pyramid-shaped skyscraper located in Pyongyang, North Korea. It was designed to be the tallest hotel in the world, standing at a height of 330 meters with 105 floors. Construction on the hotel began in 1987, but it was never completed until 2011.

Origins and Purpose

The Ryugyong Hotel was designed as a symbol of North Korea’s power and prowess. It was intended to be a luxurious hotel that would attract tourists and businesspeople from around the world. The hotel was also meant to be a statement of North Korea’s technological capabilities, as it was designed to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Construction Delays and Setbacks

The construction of the hotel was plagued with delays and setbacks. The original contractor, a French company, pulled out of the project in 1992 due to financial difficulties. Construction was halted for several years before a new contractor, a Spanish company, took over in 2008. The hotel was finally completed in 2011, but it remained empty and unused for several years.

There were also concerns about the structural integrity of the hotel. Some experts questioned whether the building was sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. It was also rumored that the hotel was sinking and leaning at a dangerous angle.

Renovation and Completion

In 2018, the Ryugyong Hotel underwent a major renovation. The exterior of the building was revamped and new lighting was added, giving it a more modern and sleek appearance. The hotel also received a new name, the “Koryo Hotel,” and it finally opened its doors to guests in 2019.

Despite its troubled history, the Ryugyong/Koryo Hotel stands as a testament to North Korea’s ambition and determination. While there are still concerns about its structural soundness, the hotel remains a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of North Korea’s technological prowess.

Engineering and Design

The Ryugyong Hotel, also known as the “Hotel of Doom,” is a 105-story skyscraper located in Pyongyang, North Korea. The construction of the hotel began in 1987 and was supposed to be completed in 1989, but due to various economic and political reasons, the building remained unfinished for decades. The hotel was finally completed in 2011, but there have been concerns about its structural integrity. In this article, we will examine the engineering and design of the Ryugyong Hotel to determine whether it is structurally sound.

Structural Components

The Ryugyong Hotel has a unique triangular shape, which makes it stand out from other skyscrapers. The building has three wings that converge at the top, forming a pyramid-like shape. The structural components of the building include a reinforced concrete core and steel columns, which provide the necessary support for the building’s weight. The hotel also has a double-layered glass facade, which provides insulation and protection from the elements.

Wind and Earthquake Resistance

The Ryugyong Hotel is located in an area that is prone to earthquakes and strong winds. To ensure the building’s stability, the engineers incorporated various design features to make it resistant to these natural disasters. The building has a tuned mass damper, which is a device that reduces the building’s vibration caused by strong winds or earthquakes. The hotel also has a flexible steel frame, which allows it to sway without breaking during an earthquake. The engineers also conducted extensive wind tunnel tests to determine the building’s wind resistance.

Elevators and Utilities

The Ryugyong Hotel has 3 elevators that travel at a speed of 1,080 feet per minute, making them some of the fastest elevators in the world. The hotel also has a backup power system that can provide electricity to the building for up to 72 hours in case of a power outage. The hotel’s plumbing system uses a water treatment plant on the roof to provide clean water to the building. The hotel also has a heating and cooling system that uses geothermal energy.

Controversies and Challenges

The Ryugyong Hotel, also known as the “Hotel of Doom,” is a 105-story skyscraper located in Pyongyang, North Korea. The construction of this hotel began in 1987, but due to political and economic issues, the construction was halted for several years, and the building remained unfinished for a long time.

Political and Economic Issues

The construction of the hotel was initiated by the North Korean government, and it was intended to showcase the country’s economic and technological progress. However, the project was plagued by financial difficulties, and the government had to allocate a significant amount of resources to keep the construction going. The construction of the hotel was also delayed due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a major donor to North Korea.

Safety Concerns and Criticisms

Despite being one of the tallest hotels in the world, the Ryugyong Hotel has faced criticism over its safety concerns. The building has been designed to withstand earthquakes, but some experts have raised concerns over the building’s ability to withstand high winds. The building’s exterior was also criticized for its poor quality, and it was reported that the building’s concrete was of low quality and had air pockets.

Tourism and Public Perception

The Ryugyong Hotel has become a popular tourist attraction, and it is often featured in postcards and travel brochures. However, the hotel’s unfinished appearance and controversies have also attracted negative attention. The hotel has been called an eyesore and a symbol of the country’s economic failures. Despite these criticisms, the North Korean government has continued to promote the hotel as a symbol of the country’s progress and modernization.

Current State and Future Plans

The Ryugyong Hotel, also known as the “Hotel of Doom”, is a 105-story skyscraper located in Pyongyang, North Korea. Construction of the hotel began in 1987, but was halted in 1992 due to economic and political instability. After standing unfinished for decades, construction resumed in 2008 and the exterior was completed in 2011. However, the hotel has yet to open to the public, leading many to question its structural integrity and safety.

Interior and Exterior Features

The Ryugyong Hotel stands at 330 meters (1,083 feet) tall and has a total floor area of 360,000 square meters (3.9 million square feet). The exterior is covered in reflective glass and features three wings that taper towards a pointed top. Inside, the hotel is said to have 3,000 rooms, multiple restaurants, and a revolving restaurant and observation deck at the top.

However, due to the lack of access to the interior, it is difficult to confirm the existence and quality of these features. The hotel’s elevators and other infrastructure have also been a cause for concern, as they were reportedly not installed during the initial construction and may pose safety risks.

Recent Developments and Proposals

In recent years, there have been several proposals to repurpose the Ryugyong Hotel. In 2018, it was announced that the hotel would be turned into luxury apartments, offices, and a hotel. However, no updates on this plan have been released since.

In 2019, a British architectural firm proposed transforming the hotel into a vertical park, complete with gardens and green spaces. This proposal has gained attention and support from some in the architectural community, but it remains to be seen if it will be implemented.

Potential Uses and Impacts

If the Ryugyong Hotel were to open to the public, it has the potential to become a major tourist attraction and source of revenue for North Korea. However, concerns about its safety and structural integrity must be addressed before any such plans can be realized.

The hotel’s sheer size and unique design also make it a symbol of North Korea’s ambition and power. Its completion and successful use could serve as a demonstration of the country’s technological and engineering capabilities.


In conclusion, the Ryugyong Hotel is indeed structurally sound, despite the many hurdles it has faced in its construction. Its unique design and engineering make it a fascinating and impressive piece of architecture, but its political and economic context have made it a symbol of controversy and speculation. As North Korea continues to evolve and open up to the world, the fate of the Ryugyong Hotel remains uncertain, but its story will continue to captivate and intrigue people around the globe.

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