N. Korean 'Hotel of Doom' photos emerge

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PYONGYANG, North Korea — Photos have emerged of a 105-floor hotel in North Korea that, once meant to symbolize the country's burgeoning wealth, is now a symbol for many of North Korea's thwarted ambitions.

Construction started in 1987 on the Ryuguong Hotel, or the ‘Hotel of Doom,' as it has come to be known. The project was put on hiatus in 1992 when North Korea entered a period of economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The unfinished hotel has since been a source of contention in the country, a blemish on its landscape that has at times reportedly been airbrushed out of official state photos. It has become very public evidence of a state more concerned with a struggling economy and serious food shortages than with finishing the most prominent feature of the Pyongyang skyline.

To outsiders, it has remained a mystery, with the photos released by Koryo Tours, a Beijing based tour agency, being the first look for many inside what has been called the world's most mysterious building. The pictures show sleek, modern exterior with a concrete lobby and only the skeletons of rooms on the inside.

Work on the hotel picked up in April 2008, with North Korean officials saying the building would open in April 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Eternal President Kim Il-sung. The deadline was not met, although by the end of 2011 the external work was complete.

Korean officials have now said they hope to see the building open by the end of 2015.

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Stephanie Grimes


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