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North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel Gets A Face Lift

North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel Gets A Face Lift

Dubbed The Worst Building in the History of Mankind by Esquire Magazine in January, 2008, the unfinished and never occupied 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel is reportedly back under construction after a 16-year lull.

Reuters has the latest stirrings of life in the carcass that dominates the skyline of that beautiful Stalinist paradise, Pyongyang.

There were reportedly questions raised about whether the hotel was structurally sound and a few believed completing the structure could cause it to collapse.

But, according to foreign residents in Pyongyang, Egypt's Orascom group has recently begun refurbishing the top floors of the three-sided pyramid-shaped hotel whose 330-metre (1,083 ft) frame dominates the Pyongyang skyline.

The firm has put glass panels into the concrete shell, installed telecommunications antennas — even though the North forbids its citizens to own mobile phones — and put up an artist's impression of what it will look like.

It would cost up to $2-billion to finish the Ryugyong Hotel and make it safe, according to estimates in South Korean media. That is equivalent to about 10 percent of the North's annual economic output.

Also, you may be familiar with the name Orascom, if you follow sales of wireless spectrum in Canada anyway. It's the telecom arm of Weather Investments, which is controlled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawaris, who has partnered with the biggest winner in the latest wireless spectrum auction:

Globalive Communications Corp, which is poised to become a national wireless player with the exception of Quebec, is backed by the $14-billion clout of Weather Investments and Orascom Telecom Holdings, two companies that have a total of 95 million wireless subscribers around the world, including substantial holdings in the developed markets of Italy and Greece.

"Orascom and Weather may not be household names in Canada, but they have more subscribers than AT&T," Mr. Ghose said.

Photo: The concrete bulk of the Ryuguong.Teruaki Ueno/Reuters

See a tourists video of the vast, abandoned structure below

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