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North Korea's 'Hotel of Doom' suffers yet another setback in 26-year path to opening

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north korea pyongyang ryugyong (Maxim Tupikov /
north korea pyongyang ryugyong (Maxim Tupikov /

North Korea's unfinished Ryugyong Hotel has towered over the capital city of Pyongyang for over a quarter-century without opening, but late last year it looked like the 105-story pyramid's development hell was coming to an end. German hotel operator Kempinski swooped in and claimed it'd take the first reservations this summer for 150 of the hotel's planned 1,500 rooms. "This pyramid monster hotel will monopolize all the business in the city," said CEO Reto Wittwer at the time in comments reported by Bloomberg. "I said to myself, we have to get this hotel if there is ever a chance, because this will become a money-printing machine if North Korea opens up."

"This pyramid monster hotel will monopolize all the business in the city."

Unfortunately for prospective Pyongyang tourists, the structure variously dubbed "Hotel of Doom" and "the worst building in the history of mankind" by Esquire has had its opening put on hold yet again. Kempinski downplayed the initial reports in a statement to NK News, saying that "no agreement has been signed since market entry is not currently possible."

No reason was given for the backtrack, but it's easy to see why operating a high-rise hotel in North Korea would be fraught with difficulty. The secluded country places strict limitations on visitors, and lately has been amping up its international rhetoric following a successful nuclear test. Earlier today North Korea placed missile units on standby in preparation for a strike against US military bases in the Pacific; Reuters reports that the move is in response to the US conducting a regional exercise with nuclear-equipped stealth bombers intended as a show of force.