North Korea's most expensive mistake
There are many relics of the Cold War era, dotted around the world. Most of which are decommissioned military installations such as submarine bases, airfields and missile silos. They we introduced as a means of defending territory, as the world boiled over in the stalemate of nuclear war. As some states completed against one another on the military stage, others were completing on the domestic stage.
With tensions running high between North and South Korea, the North planned to make a real statement in the form of The Ryugyong Hotel. The hotel was reportedly a Cold War response to the completion of the world's tallest hotel, the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore, in 1986 by the South Korean company SsangYong Group.
The hotel would consist of 105 floors, and the space would be used for both commercial and hotel rooms. There had been hopes for the project to attract foreign investment, as the developers looked to raise $230 million for the project.
The project began construction in 1987, with the concrete structure first to be produced. However, by 1992 the project suffered its first series of setbacks. North Korea was entering a period of economic crisis, as the Soviet Union (one of its main backers) reached its conclusion. Construction ceased completely, with the building topped out. It still needed to be made water tight and missing all of its windows, the building was left exposed to the elements.
Despite the building reaching its maximum height, questions were raised regarding the quality of the building's concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts, which some sources said were "crooked". This was a major setback for the state as this project looked like it could cost well in excess of $750 million. The original scheduled to open in June 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students had been and gone. The building lay vacant for 16 years, with the original construction crane perched on the tip of the tallest point rusting.
In late 2008, construction finally resumed with the exterior completed in 2011. With further opening dates announced in both 2012 and 2013 neither were achieved. As of 2016 the building still remains unopened, as UN restrictions imposed following increased nuclear weapons tests has isolated the small communist state. With little chance of increased tourism in the future, it’s likely the building will continue to stand as the world’s tallest derelict building.