NORTH KOREA is pushing forward with a grand plan to finish its infamous Hotel of Doom and create a skyscraper city modelled on Dubai.
Construction of the 1,080ft Ryugyong Hotel originally started in 1987, but spent 16 years as a skeletal frame after work ground to a halt, thereby gaining its sinister nickname.
Work on the 105-storey skycraper resumed in 2008 and a few cosmetic changes have been made since, but now a grand plan for the hotel area has finally been unveiled.
In a 3D render glimpsed on state television, the Ryugyong, which is roughly the same height as The Shard in London, is seen by the hermetic state as the crowning jewel in a futuristic new development.
Alongside it will stand two sail-shaped skyscrapers resembling Dubai’s famous Burj Al Arab hotel, while other high-rises will soar into the air nearby forming a skyscraper city in the country’s capital Pyongyang.
North Korea expert, Markus Bell of the University of Sheffield, said that finishing the decades-long project may be intended to showcase North Korea’s prosperity, even under punishing sanctions.
“Continued work on the Ryugyong Hotel represents the North Korean government’s aspirations to demonstrate the growing economic prosperity of the country,” he said.
“In doing so, the government is signalling to a domestic audience that it is still in control of things even in the face of what must surely be crippling economic sanctions.”
The broadcast also teased a blueprint of the Ryugyong’s interior, followed by a 3D animation approaching the landmark.
‘CRIPPLING ECONOMIC SANCTIONS’
As for the sail-shaped skyscrapers, they made their debut as a concept at a 2018 architecture fair in Pyongyang, where they were revealed to be 80-storeys tall.
But however opulent the plans, Dr Bell said, they would not change the reality.
“The reality is that the sanctions are currently restricting the importing and exporting of industrial equipment, technologies, coal, oil, and other essential resources,” he said.
“That is having a detrimental impact on everyday life in North Korea.
“And while we shouldn’t be surprised if work continues to plod along on this project, I wouldn’t be volunteering to stay on the top floor once it’s completed.”
He’s not the first to express doubts about the structural integrity of the Ryugyong.
It’s been said that its concrete skeleton is irreparable after years of exposure to the elements, while the lift shafts have been called crooked.
But there are signs that the Kim Jong-un regime intends to develop the hotel area regardless – with a large area nearby recently being levelled by the authorities.
Party bosses also installed a huge LED display on the face of the Ryugyong last year, allowing them to illuminate the building with propaganda.
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Construction of the tower was supposed to finish in 1989 and – had that happened – it would have been the tallest hotel in the world at that time.
However, a period of economic crisis rocked North Korea after the fall of the Soviet Union and work stopped in 1992 – the glass facade was only added in 2010.
The new plans were revealed in a report on North Korea’s Paektusan Institute of Architecture.
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