Ryugyong Hotel was supposed to become the world’s largest hotel. But after more than 30 years, it is still unfinished. Now the building has been turned into a huge screen showing positive messages about North Korea.
The Ryugyong Hotel, in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, is huge. The 105-story building is over 1,000 feet (330 meters) tall. It is a pyramid with three sides shaped like triangles. At the top of the triangles are eight floors that were meant to spin.
The hotel was started in 1987 by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il – the father of the current leader, Kim Jong Un. The building was meant to be the world’s largest hotel. But when the country ran low on money in 1992, the building was stopped. Around $750 million had been spent on the hotel – almost 2% of all the money the country could create in a year.
For years, the building sat unfinished. The main frame of the hotel was there, but it had no windows and was not finished on the outside. Some people said that even the frame of the building was not safe and could not be completed.
The building embarrassed the government so much that the hotel was not shown on official maps of the city. The government also changed the official pictures of the city so that the hotel did not appear.
In 2008, after the building had been sitting for 16 years, work began again. By 2011, the outside was finished.
Some parts of the hotel were supposed to open in 2013, but that didn’t happen. Work started again in 2016, but it is still not clear when or if the inside might be finished. The building holds the Guinness World Record for the largest building that no one lives in or uses.
But a new use has been found for the outside of the building. Kim Yong Il created special displays on the building, using over 100,000 LEDs. LEDs are very bright lights that can change color and be controlled by a computer. Mr. Kim spent around five months creating the light show, which started in April of last year with a waving North Korean flag at the top of the hotel.
After being considered a blight on the landscape, the Ryugyong hotel has now been reborn as a symbol of pride and North Korean ingenuity https://t.co/GKoS2TivuH
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) December 31, 2018
Now, for several hours every night, the building repeats a four-minute light display, showing some of the history of the country and its famous landmarks, along with fireworks and positive messages about the country.
“I feel proud,” says Mr. Kim. “The goal of setting up this light screen is to give confidence and hope for the future to our people.”
There is still no official word on when the hotel might open, but for now, at least, the light show seems to have turned something that was embarrassing into something that North Korean people are proud of.
LED strip lights were added to the glass walls of the still-unfinished Ryugyong Hotel building early this summer.
And on some nights, propaganda messages and animations are often projected here – which can be seen for miles and miles.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) November 24, 2018
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