First photos from inside North Korea’s most infamous hotel

September 26th, 2012

LONDON– Finally, after decades of waiting and endless speculation, North Korean authorities have opened the doors to the now mythical Ryugyong hotel, giving the world its first peek inside.

These exclusive picture, shared with us by our friends at Koryo Tours, reveal the as-yet-unfinished central dining room that’s so huge it dwarfs all that stand inside it.

Construction on the Ryugyong began in 1987 and was due to be completed two years later, however delays and mis-management prevented Kim Il Sung’s dream of building the tallest building in the world from being realised. Building work halted in 1992 and for nearly two decades it remained a dormant triangle on Pyongyang’s skyline, treated by many as a symbol of North Korea’s economic failure.

Hotel view from a distance

Picture from outside the hotel

Work resumed in 2008 after heavy investment from Egypt’s Orascom group, who are also responsible and heavily invested in North Korea’s mobile telephone industry. It has been previously reported that Orascom have installed a powerful telephone ariel in the top of the Ryugyong.

Inside the hotel

Find the Korean lady in the picture and the size of what will become the main dining room becomes clear

Though the building’s interior is yet to be completed, North Korean officials claim it will eventually contain the country’s premier restaurants, hotel accommodation, apartments, and business facilities.


Looking towards the top

According to Koryo, the inside of the building still has substantial work to be done but the structure of the lobby and dining area and conference room (all on the ground floor) were visible, sources at the site suggest 2 or 3 more years until projected completion at which time hotel rooms, office space, and long term rentals will be available.

Hannah from Koryo Tours made speechless by the view

But for now at least, proof that things really are moving on with the Ryugyong. As soon as the building can be occupied, Koryo say they will offer tours staying there –stay tuned for further info.

Simon from Koryo Tours at the top of the Hotel

Recommended for You

Inside North Korean television: The wooden box of wonder

Inside North Korean television: The wooden box of wonder

A grandmother in a rural area of North Korea was given a television from her grandson, who works in an urban area. The wooden box was truly astonishing: She could watch many people inside the box and …

March 10th, 2015
When divided Koreas meant box office bonanza

When divided Koreas meant box office bonanza

1998 to 2007 was an era of breakthroughs in inter-Korean relations, and this was reflected at the South Korean box office. Mount Geumgang tourism launched in 1998. The historic first inter-Korean s…

February 26th, 2015

About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.

Join the discussion