The 105-story Ryugyong Hotel towers over the Pyongyang skyline as the tallest building in North Korea. But this architectural marvel has sat unfinished and unused for over three decades, earning names like ‘The Worst Building in the History of Mankind.’

So what makes this abandoned building so fascinating?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The most interesting facts about the Ryugyong Hotel are its unusual design, the mysteries surrounding its long-delayed construction, and its status as a symbolic reminder of North Korea’s economic failures.

In this in-depth article, we’ll detail the peculiar history of the Ryugyong, explore what life inside might have been like, and see how its bizarre, triangle-shaped design reflects North Korea’s unique ideology and culture.

The Ryugyong’s Unusual Design and Structure

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang is renowned for its unique and striking design. Standing tall at 330 meters, it boasts an unusual pyramid shape that sets it apart from other architectural marvels around the world.

This distinctive design has captured the interest and curiosity of people from all corners of the globe.

Pyramid Shape with Symbolic Meaning

The pyramid shape of the Ryugyong Hotel holds significant symbolic meaning. In ancient Egypt, pyramids were built as grand tombs for pharaohs, symbolizing their eternal power and divinity. Similarly, the Ryugyong Hotel’s pyramid shape represents the strength and authority of the North Korean regime.

It serves as a visual representation of the country’s ambition and determination to be a global player.

The design also evokes a sense of mystery and intrigue. The sharp angles and towering structure create a sense of awe and wonder. Visitors can’t help but be captivated by the sheer audacity of the design and the questions it raises about the intentions and capabilities of the North Korean government.

Superlative Architecture and Engineering

The Ryugyong Hotel’s architecture and engineering are nothing short of remarkable. Despite its unconventional shape, the building has managed to withstand the test of time and various challenges. Construction of the hotel began in 1987 but was halted in the early 1990s due to economic difficulties.

It remained incomplete and abandoned for many years, earning it the nickname “The Hotel of Doom.”

However, in recent years, efforts have been made to revive the project and complete the hotel. The structure has been reinforced, and the exterior has been clad with glass panels, giving it a sleek and modern appearance.

The engineering feats required to stabilize such a massive and unconventional building are truly awe-inspiring.

Lavish Intended Features

When completed, the Ryugyong Hotel was intended to be a luxurious destination for tourists and a symbol of North Korea’s opulence and prosperity. It was planned to house multiple hotels, restaurants, office spaces, and even an observation deck that would offer breathtaking views of the city.

While the hotel has yet to fully realize its intended features, the plans and vision behind it remain extraordinary. The sheer scale and ambition of the project showcase the aspirations of the North Korean government to create a world-class destination that would rival the most prestigious hotels in the world.

Despite its tumultuous history, the Ryugyong Hotel continues to attract attention and remains an architectural marvel. Its unusual design, symbolic significance, and ambitious vision make it a truly fascinating structure that sparks curiosity and captivates the imagination of all who encounter it.

The Mystery of the Ryugyong’s Delayed Construction

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, is a fascinating architectural marvel that has captivated the world with its unique design and intriguing history. One of the most interesting aspects of the hotel is the mystery surrounding its delayed construction.

Let’s explore the factors that contributed to this long and tumultuous process.

Groundbreaking and Grand Ambitions

The construction of the Ryugyong Hotel began in 1987 with grand ambitions to create the tallest hotel in the world. Designed to have 105 floors and stand at a height of 330 meters (1,083 feet), the hotel was intended to showcase the power and modernity of the North Korean regime.

However, the ambitious project faced numerous challenges right from the start.

Initially, the construction progressed rapidly, with the exterior of the hotel nearing completion by 1992. However, due to a lack of funds and technical difficulties, the project came to an abrupt halt, plunging the hotel into decades of uncertainty.

Budget Shortfalls and Construction Halts

One of the main reasons for the prolonged delay in the construction of the Ryugyong Hotel was the severe budget shortfalls that plagued North Korea. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, followed by a devastating famine in the mid-1990s, severely impacted the country’s economy and hindered its ability to finance large-scale projects.

The lack of financial resources led to multiple construction halts, with the hotel remaining unfinished and abandoned for many years. Despite various attempts to revive the project, including seeking foreign investment and partnerships, the Ryugyong Hotel remained a dormant symbol of the country’s economic struggles.

Political Sensitivities

Another factor contributing to the prolonged delay in the Ryugyong’s construction is the political sensitivities surrounding the hotel. North Korea’s isolationist policies and strained diplomatic relations with many countries have made it challenging to attract foreign investment and expertise to complete the project.

Additionally, concerns about the country’s human rights record and the overall stability of the regime have deterred potential investors from committing to the hotel’s completion. These political factors have further complicated the already complex process of finishing the Ryugyong Hotel.

Despite the challenges, recent years have seen renewed efforts to finish the construction of the Ryugyong Hotel. In 2018, the exterior was finally completed, and plans were announced to transform the building into a mixed-use development, including a hotel, apartments, and commercial spaces.

The Ryugyong Hotel’s delayed construction has added to its allure, making it a symbol of resilience and perseverance. As the hotel finally nears completion, the world eagerly awaits the opportunity to witness the grandeur of this iconic structure and unravel the mysteries that have surrounded it for decades.

Life Inside the Unfinished Ryugyong

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang is a fascinating architectural marvel that has captured the attention of travelers and architecture enthusiasts worldwide. While the exterior of the hotel has become an iconic symbol of the city, not much is known about what lies inside this massive structure.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes life inside the unfinished Ryugyong so interesting.

Opulent Guest Rooms and Meeting Spaces

Despite its incomplete status, the Ryugyong Hotel boasts a number of opulent guest rooms and meeting spaces. The interior design is characterized by grandiose chandeliers, luxurious furnishings, and breathtaking views of the city.

Each room is meticulously decorated to provide guests with a sense of luxury and comfort. Whether you’re staying for business or pleasure, the Ryugyong Hotel offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Rotating Restaurants and Bars

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Ryugyong Hotel is its rotating restaurants and bars. Located on the upper floors of the building, these establishments offer panoramic views of Pyongyang while guests enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink.

The rotating feature provides a dynamic dining experience, allowing visitors to take in the city’s breathtaking skyline from different angles. It’s an experience that is truly unmatched.

Observation Decks

For those who want to take in the beauty of Pyongyang from even higher vantage points, the Ryugyong Hotel offers observation decks on its upper floors. These decks provide stunning 360-degree views of the city, allowing visitors to marvel at its architecture, landscapes, and bustling streets.

Whether it’s day or night, the observation decks offer a mesmerizing experience that showcases the true grandeur of Pyongyang.

While the Ryugyong Hotel may be unfinished, its interior spaces offer a glimpse into the lavishness and grandeur that was intended for this iconic structure. From opulent guest rooms and meeting spaces to rotating restaurants and observation decks, life inside the Ryugyong Hotel is nothing short of extraordinary.

Plan your visit to this architectural wonder and immerse yourself in a world of luxury and beauty.

The Ryugyong: Symbol of North Korean Failure

Ruined Economy and Infrastructure Collapse

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, stands as a towering reminder of the country’s economic struggles and infrastructure collapse. Construction on the hotel began in 1987 with the aim of showcasing the nation’s prosperity and modernity.

However, due to a series of setbacks and financial difficulties, the project was abruptly halted in 1992 and remained untouched for over a decade. The unfinished structure sat as an empty shell, earning it the nickname “Hotel of Doom” by outsiders.

During this period of stagnation, North Korea faced severe economic challenges, including food shortages, international sanctions, and a crumbling infrastructure. The country’s focus shifted from completing extravagant projects like the Ryugyong to addressing more pressing issues.

The hotel became a symbol of the nation’s economic failure and its inability to provide for its citizens.

Despite efforts to revive the project in the early 2000s, the Ryugyong Hotel remains incomplete to this day. Its presence serves as a stark reminder of the economic hardships faced by North Korea.

Government Secrecy About Delays

One intriguing aspect of the Ryugyong Hotel is the government’s secrecy surrounding the delays and setbacks during its construction. North Korean officials initially touted the hotel as a symbol of the country’s progress and technological prowess.

However, when construction came to a halt, the government remained tight-lipped about the reasons behind the delays.

This lack of transparency fueled speculation and rumors about the true state of North Korea’s economy and the feasibility of completing such a massive project. Some experts believe that the government’s unwillingness to admit to the setbacks highlights its desire to maintain a facade of strength and stability in the eyes of the international community.

The secrecy surrounding the Ryugyong Hotel only adds to its mystique and allure, making it a topic of fascination for outsiders seeking to understand the inner workings of North Korea.

Propaganda Victory When Completed

If and when the Ryugyong Hotel is finally completed, it will undoubtedly be hailed as a propaganda victory by the North Korean government. The hotel’s imposing structure and sheer size will serve as a symbol of the nation’s resilience and determination to overcome adversities.

North Korea has a long history of using grand architectural projects as propaganda tools, showcasing its strength and technological advancements. The completion of the Ryugyong Hotel would be no different, allowing the government to project an image of prosperity and progress to both its own citizens and the outside world.

However, it should be noted that even if the hotel is finished, its practicality and economic viability remain questionable. Critics argue that the resources invested in the Ryugyong Hotel could have been better allocated to address the pressing needs of the North Korean people.

Only time will tell if the completion of the Ryugyong Hotel will truly be a propaganda victory or another symbol of North Korean extravagance and misplaced priorities.


With its pyramidal design, the Ryugyong Hotel reflects North Korea’s outsized ambitions and ideology, while its abandoned state for over 30 years offers a glimpse into the country’s economic failures and secrecy. This makes it one of the most unusual and fascinating buildings in the world.

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