Some are real trainspotters, and seek them out in all their literal dullness. I am a virtual skyscraperspotter, and surf the net looking for photos and descriptions. And I have just discovered a new one, the amazing Ryugyong Hotel, in Pyongyang, North Korea. When I say “new”, all I mean is I’ve only just heard about it. The thing has been in existence for well over a decade. I only encountered it because it is on the left here. Good grief, what the upper case top row of my keyboard is that? – I expostulated.
I have my answer. Says Wikipedia:
The Ryugyong Hotel is a towering, 105-story, 1,083 foot empty concrete shell in Pyongyang, North Korea. If the building ever was completed it would be considered the world’s largest hotel, and one of the tallest buildings in the world. Today however, the building remains uninhabited and unfinished.
The North Koreans began constructing the pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel in 1987, reportedly aiming for 105 stories to beat out a structure the South Koreans were building in Singapore. The building was to contain 3,000 rooms and 7 revolving restaurants. The estimated cost of building it ran upwards of $750 million, which is 2% of North Korea’s GDP. It’s generally assumed construction came to a halt in 1991 because North Korea was suffering from famine, acute electricity shortages, and lack of necessary funding. The basic structure is complete, but no windows, fixtures or fittings have been installed. According to http://www.skyscrapers.com, the concrete used in building the Ryugyong Hotel is of unsuitable quality and therefore is unsafe – it cannot therefore be completed as currently built. With annual tourism numbering less than a hundred, some question the logic of building such a massive hotel. Pyongyang’s few existing hotels remain to this day, virtually empty. The 3.9-million-square-foot concrete structure continues to dominate Pyongyang’s skyline.
In other words, this building is going to supply the world with the second most dramatic demolition video ever (I am afraid it will not be the winner), and nothing else. I love that bit about how “some question the logic” of this ludicrous structure. In general, anti-collectivist propaganda does not come any more damning, and is all the more damning here because it is done so delicately. “Some question the logic …” in a country “suffering” (like it just happened to turn out that way) from “famine, acute electricity shortages, and lack of necessary funding”. Yeah, I had heard about that.
I was going to put that this makes our little Dome look like very small potatoes, public-spending-wise. But actually our Dome seems to have wasted about three times as much as the Ryugyong Hotel. (Hah!! You call that wasting public money?) The difference is that we could afford our Dome without very much mass starvation, and even now our electricity supplies are hardly ever interrupted.
Until just now, as I say, I had no idea about this ridiculous edifice, no idea at all. I guess they are not that eager to advertise it, what with it being made of cheese and having no windows and being unliveable in and liable to collapse at any moment.
The sooner President Bush finds a way of shutting down this evil joke of a country and merging it into the sensible one to the south of it, the better.