Ryugyong Hotel

An enormous pyramid-shaped hotel which has stood half-built for decades in North Korea’s capital is on track to open its doors next year, Reto Wittwer, CEO of luxury international hotel chain Kempinski, said Thursday at a forum in Seoul.

Pyongyang’s 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, a monolithic concrete shell dubbed the “Hotel of Doom” by international media, has been repeatedly delayed and stands as a symbol of the economic problems plaguing the impoverished country.

Kempinski chief executive Reto Wittwer said the group would open the hotel in July or August 2013, offering 150 rooms on the top floors of the building.

“It will become a multipurpose complex, with the three lowest floors used for the lobby, restaurants and a shopping centre, and the rest of the upper floors will be mostly used for offices,” he said.

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, who died last December, ordered construction of the hotel in 1987, with skills and capital from a French company.

Wittwer said that Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, which launched a mobile network in North Korea in 2008, has invested $180 million in the building’s exterior, which has now been completed. Orascom is now working on the interior, he added.

In September this year, Beijing-based company Koryo Tours, which organises trips to North Korea, was granted a rare glimpse inside the hotel.

Photos taken by the company and provided to AFP show a vast glass-covered lobby and atrium with tiers of bare concrete at its base, resembling a multi-storey car park.

The visit also revealed that the building features a ninety-fifth-floor viewing platform and plans for a banqueting hall.