Local Heart, Global Soul

May 18, 2018

Unfinished Business At The Ryugyong Hotel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Ryugyong Hotel, (sometimes spelled as Ryu-Gyong Hotel) is an unfinished 105-story, 330-metre-tall (1,080 ft) pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Its name (“capital of willows”) is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang. The building is also known as the 105 Building, a reference to its number of floors. Planned as a mixed-use development, which would include a hotel, construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

After 1992 the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008 construction resumed, and the exterior was completed in 2011. It was planned to open the hotel in 2012, the centenary of Kim Il-sung’s birth. A partial opening was announced for 2013, but cancelled. As of 2018, the building remains unopened and has been called the tallest unfinished and unoccupied building in the world.

The building consists of three wings, each measuring 100 metres (330 ft) long, 18 metres (59 ft) wide, and sloped at a 75‑degree angle, which converge at a common point to form a pinnacle. The building is topped by a truncated cone 40 metres (130 ft) wide, consisting of eight floors that are intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. The structure was originally intended to house five revolving restaurants, and either 3,000 or 7,665 guest rooms, according to different sources.

The plan for a large hotel was reportedly a Cold War response to the completion of the world’s tallest hotel, the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore, in 1986 by the South Korean company SsangYong Group.

Scheduled to open in June 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, problems with building methods and materials delayed completion. Had it opened on schedule, it would have surpassed the Westin Stamford Hotel to become the world’s tallest hotel, and would have been the seventh-tallest building in the world.

Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million, consuming 2 percent of North Korea’s GDP. For over a decade, the unfinished building sat vacant and without windows, fixtures, or fittings, appearing as a massive concrete shell. According to Marcus Noland, in the late 1990s, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea inspected the building and concluded that the structure was irreparable. Questions were raised regarding the quality of the building’s concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts, which some sources said were “crooked”.

The halt in construction, the rumours of problems and the mystery about its future led foreign media sources to dub it “the worst building in the world”Hotel of Doom” and “Phantom Hotel”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In April 2008, after 16 years of inactivity, work on the building was restarted by the Egyptian company Orascom Group.

The firm, which had entered into a US$400 million deal with the North Korean government to build and run a 3G mobile phone network, said that their telecommunications deal was not directly related to the Ryugyong Hotel work.

Officials stated that the hotel would be completed by 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the “Eternal President”, Kim Il-sung.
In July 2011, it was reported that the exterior work was complete.

Features that Orascom had installed include exterior glass panels and telecommunications antennae. In September 2012, photographs taken by Koryo Tours were released, showing the interior for the first time. There were few fixtures or furnishings.

In November 2012, international hotel operator Kempinski announced it would be running the hotel which was expected to partially open in mid‑2013. In March 2013, plans to open the hotel were suspended.
Kempinski clarified its earlier statements saying that only “initial discussions” had ever occurred, but that no agreement had been signed because “market entry is not currently possible”.

In late 2016 there were indications that work was resuming, and a report that a representative of Orascom had visited North Korea. In 2017 and early 2018, there were signs of work at the site, with access roads being constructed. In April 2018, it was reported that a large LED display featuring the North Korean flag had been added to the top of the building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St Mark’s Square…

Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as la Piazza (“the Square”). The Piazzetta (“little Piazza/Square”) is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together. The Square is dominated at its eastern end by the great church of St Mark.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Car Racing: In this part of the exhibition, visitors could build their own vehicle but also race it against all comers (Watching quietly from a distance, it was almost impossible to determine who was the most competitive; the kids or the adults!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel
Wikipedia / Ryugyong Hotel / North Korea

Wikipedia / Piazza San Marco / St Mark’s Square / Venice / Italy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_San_Marco

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