Construction appears to have restarted at Pyongyang’s ominous “Hotel of Doom” with satellite imagery and photos taken by tourists showing cranes, worker housing and trucks around the pyramid-like tower.
The 105-floor Ryugyong Hotel was supposed to be the tallest hotel in the world upon its scheduled completion in 1989, complete with casinos, nightclubs and Japanese lounges, but construction halted in the 1990s due to widespread famine and the 1992 economy crash.
But new satellite imagery by Pen News shows trucks and potential workers housing around the hexagonal patchwork of landscaping around the 1080 foot tower.
A large wall was removed sometime during the summer which used to block access to the site. The wall used to state “move forward to final victory”.
Photos taken by tourists also show at least on crane next to the hotel.
The hotel’s construction began in 1987 under North Korea’s founder and “eternal president” Kim Il Sung. Since then it has racked up a $552 million price tag. The building was officially “unveiled” this summer, but its doors are still closed, The Independent reported.
The structure’s glass exterior was completed in 2011, Fox News reported, but little action has been detected since. This summer, propaganda posters popped up in the area of the tower and soldier-builders and digging machines were spotted in the vicinity.
Before that, the last sign of activity was recorded in a December photo last year showing the lights turned on at one of the uppermost floors in the building.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) August 17, 2017
Till Mosler, a German tourist, said that his guides told him that the hotel will open soon.
“During my stay I saw some work activity around the entrance hall and surroundings,” Mosler told the Sun. “It seems the area around the huge building will be prepared. Also our Korean guides told us that there might be plans to open some parts of the building for public or offices. But not the whole building so far as they know.”
Swiss tourist Sophie Delaloye says her chaperons said the building is under construction.
“The guides didn’t say much,” she said. “They seemed both proud of the hotel and somehow embarrassed.”
North Korea expert Markus Bell believes that the completion of the hotel is symbolic to Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s communist dictator.
“The Ryugyong hotel is part of a broader development push by the young leader, along with several other projects, including constructing new apartment blocks in the capital, a new airport, and a ski resort,” Bell said.
“It’s part of Kim’s effort to demonstrate to the people that things are improving under his leadership. The hotel is likely to be of particular importance to Kim because construction started under his grandfather, Kim Il-sung,” Bell said. “Finishing construction would further connect him to his grandfather’s leadership. Most North Koreans I’ve spoken with over the years remember Kim Il-sung fondly.”
But the building won’t benefit ordinary citizens, Bell added.
“As with many of these projects, it’s unlikely that the average North Korean will ever step foot inside the Ryugyong, let alone stay there,” he said. “This is a project that will only benefit the elites of North Korea. As such, the money, time, and manpower that’s been invested on this project could have been used in far more beneficial ways.”