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Giant Hotel Opening in North Korea, 23 Years Late

Ryugyong Hotel a longtime laughingstock
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2012 5:22 PM CST
Giant North Korea Hotel Opening, Only 23 Years Late
North Korea's tallest structure, the Ryugyong Hotel, is seen on April 3, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – More than two decades ago, North Korea began work on a hotel taller than the Chrysler Building. This spring, after years of ridicule, a portion of Pyongyang's Ryugyong Hotel is set to open, the Washington Post reports. The 105-story building made of concrete still isn't ready for tourists, however: It will start as an office complex. The opening is thanks in part to contributions from an Egyptian telecom company—as well as construction work by university students that the government assigned to the project.

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Construction began when Pyongyang was richer, thanks to Soviet aid; four years later, it was halted due to lack of funding. Since then, the Ryugyong has been a source of embarrassment for Pyongyang; officials have even airbrushed it out of some city photos. Called "the worst building in the history of mankind" by Esquire, it was long known as an ugly giant with a crane permanently perched on top. In 2008, however, the Egyptian firm Orascom, which is building a mobile network in the country, began its renovations. (Read more Ryugyong hotel stories.)

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