The Ryugyong Hotel (also known as the Ryu-Gyong Hotel, Yu-Kyung Hotel, 105 Building, and Hotel of Doom is a 105-story 1000+-foot-tall pyramidal skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea. Architects designed it to be a mixed-use building with a hotel. But it is unfinished, making it the second-largest unoccupied building in the world. (First place goes to China’s Goldin Finance 117.)
Why is the Ryugyong Hotel unfinished?
Construction on the building began in 1987. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union and North Korea’s subsequent economic crisis brought it to a halt in 1992.
According to CNN Travel (cited below), “The Ryugyong Hotel was a product of the Cold War rivalry between US-supported South Korea and the Soviet-backed North.” And as the North watched South Korea transition to a capitalist democracy, they needed a symbol to show their achievements. Part of the North Korean government’s response was to hold a socialist pseudo-Olympics called the World Festival of Youth and Students, planned for 1989. The North Korean government hoped the hotel would house visitors and embarrass South Korea before they hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.
CNN Travel continues: “The government had already poured billions into the event, building a new stadium, expanding Pyongyang’s airport and paving new roads. That put a strain on the hermit state’s frail economy, while the Soviet Union’s collapse left it deprived of vital aid and investment.”
If it were complete today, it would be the 4th tallest hotel in the world. If completed on schedule, it would have been the tallest.
Construction commenced again in 2008 in the hopes of opening it on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il-sung. But that was canceled. In 2019, a sign bearing the hotel’s name in Korean and English was installed. And while rumors constantly swirl over its “imminent” opening, it’s not finished.
One tour company gives foreign visitors a peek inside the so-called “Hotel of Doom.” But the North Korean government does not allow its citizens to enter.
Ok, but why do some call it the Hotel of Doom?
The building didn’t get its nickname based on any danger it poses to those who step inside. It’s not haunted or anything.
According to CNN Travel: “While the structure reached its planned height in 1992, it stood windowless and hollow for another 16 years, its naked concrete exposed, like a menacing monster overlooking the city. During that time the building, which dwarfs everything around it, earned itself the nickname ‘Hotel of Doom.'”
The Hotel of Doom appears doomed to stay unfinished despite the start and stop of construction over the decades. (At this point, it likely needs an investor to completely retrofit it with modern amenities, like Wifi.)