Pyongyang’s skyline is dominated by a £1.6 billion triangular structure that has been under construction since 1987.
But while Ryugyong Hotel holds pride of place in North Korea, it has never opened its doors or hosted a single guest.
Nicknamed the Hotel of Doom, the 105-story building would become the jewel in the capital’s tourist accommodation crown.
But grand plans for the sprawling skyscraper fell through over three decades ago when the country’s economy collapsed.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, North Korea lost its most important trading partner and supplier of supplies.
The Ryugyong Hotel was one of the victims of the investment slump – and a year later the workers walked out.
Although it reached its full architectural height, the interior of the pyramidal structure was never completed.
It was supposed to house at least 3,000 rooms, but the bare concrete skeleton remained windowless and empty for another 16 years.
Battered by the elements for almost two decades, the building is believed to have weakened while the elevator shafts remained “crooked”.
Reputed to be the world’s tallest uninhabited building, it’s a spectacular failure for North Korea and a speck on Pyongyang’s horizon.
The hotel consists of three 328-foot sections with a 75-degree incline that converge at the top.
At its top is an eight-story cone-shaped section designed to house five revolving restaurants with panoramic views.
Instead, the “Hotel of Doom” became an eyesore to locals and a constant reminder of the country’s plight.
It finally underwent a much-needed renovation in 2008 when Egyptian developers took over the mammoth project and revitalized construction.
The Orascrom group made some cosmetic changes, including installing a series of panes of glass over every inch of the building – which is 68ft taller than The Shard in London.
North Korean officials promised to complete the hotel by 2012.
But the glass facade contributed little to further development and has since been relegated to a giant television screen on which Kim Jong-un could project his propaganda.
German luxury hotel group Kempinski announced it would open partially under her management before pulling out months later.
No agreement was signed because market entry is “currently not possible”.
Plans for the long-awaited opening were put on hold in March 2013, presumably due to high construction costs.
According to media reports, the final completion of the Ryugyong Hotel would cost a further £1.6 billion – about 5 per cent of the country’s total GDP.
The architect Calvin Chua told CNN: “It’s a very iconic building, but I think it’s important to consider where it sits in relation to the overall Pyongyang urban fabric. It’s like some kind of obelisk.”
But Kim Jong-un has decided to turn the lemons into lemonade – and is now using them to fuel his political aspirations.
Over 100,000 LED screens displayed bold light shows, with government slogans and symbols taking center stage in the show.
In 2018, lighting designer Kim Yong Il created a breathtaking production of the “Hotel of Doom” that played for several hours every evening.
It also served as the backdrop for elaborate fireworks displays and performances by art groups.
But it’s far from ready for its intended function unless an overabundant investor manages to persuade Pyongyang’s city leaders.
There were rumors that construction work might be quietly going on behind the scenes.
Still, the building is still without power and there’s no sign of an expected completion date — and the hotel remains a pipe dream.