A Peek Inside North Korea's Mega-Hotel

It's a building that captures the essence of North Korea's regime: Flamboyant, unserviceable, and stagnating.

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It's a building that captures the essence of North Korean leadership: Flamboyant, unserviceable, and stagnating. Koryo, a Beijing-based travel company that specializes in tourist trips to North Korea (logo at right), released the first public photos from inside the Ryugyong Hotel, the 105-story, pyramid shaped building that dominates the Pyongyang skyline. The building has been under construction for more than 20 years (its first completion date of 1989 was wildly optimistic) and even though it's not open to any guests (it has no rooms), it's still something of a tourist attraction. We got a glimpse of what it looks like inside when the company posted some recent photos on its promotional blog.

But first, a voyage back in time. Here's how the hotel was doing back in 2002, via Reuters.

It had a nice sort of '70s panache that may have looked outdated in the early aughts, but now it's totally stylin'. A view from today:

The Luxor has nothing on Ryugyong, right? Here's a view from the side:

Looks great! Progress! Let's take a look inside...

Yeesh. Not too cozy.

Oof! How about some carpeting?

OK, this is depressing. But let's focus on the positive. Have you seen the skylight!?

And the view of Pyongyang is unbeatable!

For a little background, NKNews.org has a nice explainer on the hotel's history. Work began on it in 1987. It was slated for completion by 1989 but was plagued by delays and mismanagement that prevented "Kim Il Sung’s dream of building the tallest building in the world from being realised."   Eventually, "building work halted in 1992 and for nearly two decades it remained a dormant triangle on Pyongyang’s skyline, treated by many as a symbol of North Korea’s economic failure." Well, at least Koryo's tourism business is getting a boost from it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.