SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The 105-story, pyramid-shaped hotel that has stood over North Korea’s capital city like a mountain for more than 20 years just might be on the verge of opening for the first time.
Pyongyang’s Ryugyong Hotel will “partially, probably” open in the middle of next year, Reto Wittwer, CEO of international hotel operator Kempinski AG, said Thursday at a forum in Seoul.
Kempinski will manage the hotel, which Wittwer said will open with shops, offices, ballrooms, restaurants and 150 rooms.
The enormous hotel has been a source of fascination and ridicule for the outside world and an oversized embarrassment for North Korea’s authoritarian regime.
North Korea began building the Ryugyong in the 1980s but stopped when funding ran out in the 1990s. Exterior construction resumed in 2009.
Various reports in recent years said the hotel was preparing to finally open. In September, a Beijing-based tour agency was allowed to peek inside and released pictures of the bare concrete lobby.
Wittwer said he first saw a picture of the hotel many years ago and thought then that it could eventually make a lot of money.
Kim Jong Un-Beleiveable!
Money is a commodity that most average North Koreans have very little of. This year a United Nations report on the humanitarian conditions in the Communist nation said Millions of North Korean children are not getting the food, medicine or health care they need to develop physically or mentally, leaving many stunted and malnourished.
Nearly a third of children under age 5 show signs of stunting, particularly in rural areas where food is scarce, and chronic diarrhea due to a lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity has become the leading cause of death among children, the UN said.
Hospitals are spotless but bare; few have running water or power, and drugs and medicine are in short supply.
North Korea does not produce enough food to feed its 24 million people, and relies on limited purchases of food as well as outside donations to make up the shortfall. North Korea also suffered a famine in the mid- and late-1990s, the FAO and World Food Program said in a special report late last year.
RYOT Note: It’s tragic that in a nation with some of the poorest human development figures that “luxury” accomodation is being prioritized by the government. We will be bringing you more in depth reports and specific ways to help North Korea in coming months. In the meantime let’s focus on this monstrosity of a hotel. The design is actually pretty cool and would look great in Disneyland! Who designed it, Darth Vader? Anyway, our friends at Architecture For Humanity help with the design and construction of much more practical buildings like schools, clinics and homes for people that really need them, check them out and share this story!