Giant Hotel Opening in North Korea, 23 Years Late

Ryugyong Hotel a longtime laughingstock
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 9, 2012 5:22 PM CST

(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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