Construction on the world’s ugliest building nears completion

Nearly a quarter-century after work on the Ryugyong Hotel began, the North Korean monstrosity is almost done

Chris Price/Flickr

North Korea’s iconic Ryugyong Hotel is finally set to open this April, 24 years after construction started. For decades the massive building, which looks like a blend of a pyramid and a rocket ship and is the tallest structure in North Korea, stood unused and became a powerful symbol of the country’s problems. Construction of the 105-story building started in 1987 with the goal of being the world’s tallest tower and a showcase of the communist country’s prosperity. But in the early ‘90s, construction stalled, reportedly because of money shortages following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Eventually, what was supposed to be a hotel of 3,000 rooms with revolving restaurants and other perks turned out to be the biggest eyesore in Pyongyang. Esquire magazine once called it the “worst building in the history of mankind.” Work on the hotel resumed three years ago when the North Korean government announced a partnership with an Egyptian telecom conglomerate to finish the white elephant.




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Construction on the world’s ugliest building nears completion

  1. That’s considered the world’s ugliest building? By who?

    The abomination that is the U.S. Embassy Fortress on Sussex Dr. in Ottawa is far uglier.

    • Maybe it’s ugly because it’s:
      -unfinished
      -unnecessary
      -unpopular
      -over budget
      -a symbol of a regime obsessed with vanity
      and….
      -inaccessible to the rest of the world.

  2. I think that this building is pretty cool. Say what you will about these autocratic regimes, they do have the advantage of being able to do these huge projects that are very hard to do in places like Canada.

    • “being able to do” this for 24 years now…

      • Sounds like a Canadian time table to me…

    • That’s true, they can spend 2.5 decades squandering meager financial resources on a building nobody needs, when the population at large is, quite literally, starving to death. 

      Ya gotta really hand it to those pretty cool autocratic regimes, they do know how to prioritize on the backs of starving citizens, and “vanishing” or “re-educated” dissidents.  Yep, it sure does “get things done.”

      The reason these things are “hard to do” in the West, is because they have to be justified by provable demand and funded by private entrepreneurial, and venture capital money sources.  None of which exists in “The Worker’s Paradise” of North Korea.

      • I agree with killsmith but you must admit the building is pretty cool – There are a lot worse around.
        Al Canuck

      •  How can you starve to death for 24 years and still be here??

      • I agree with everything you say. However, there is something to be said about the lack of ambition that we have. Sometimes making something big isn’t about the cost and benefit in dollars but it’s also about the inspiration that comes from it. 

        What I’m thinking about is China’s railway system. It’s hyper expensive and it has all sorts of problems but it was something big that they did and people are very proud of it.

  3. And at the top look, it’s the 1% right up there with the all-seeing eye. 

  4. Cette édifice est belle et original je trouve le design intéressant.

  5. Certainly from the outside this building is attractive to me. My background is financing major real estate projects. 

  6. I WOULD LIKE TO TELL you how much I enjoy doing this with you

  7. ugly ??? i have ugly right beside me

  8. I don’t think it’s the appearance that made it ugly, just the vagrancy by the halted construction.

  9. I thought it was the ROM in Toronto after they added all that glass crap onto it. Talk about the “emperor’ s new clothes.”

  10. Not as ugly as the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and ugly cemment building by Auther Ericson

  11. Propaganda bullshit. Ugliest building? Who says? Are we getting ready to attack North Korea again?   A lot of noise about an unfinished hotel.

  12. “Welcome to MORDOR!”  – that’s probably the vibe they were going for.

  13. It looks like a moutain.
    I rather like it.

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