Hotel Rungyong

I was reminded of an old idea I used to love, a story really, about how the internet would someday let us all see the world from everyone else’s perspective.  That would be the day we, as a selfish, disparate, atomic, individualized, and cultured species,  “got it”.

We all live a lot like the other, and the decisions we make about how to live affect all of us, if in different ways. If people are rich in one place, they must be poor in the another. If there is development somewhere, there must be underdevelopment elsewhere. In short, I hoped the internet would cultivate a global empathy for the plight of the other.

I’m less sure of this ability of the internet’s now, but I have not lost hope. When we peel back the curtain in North Korea and see lunacy of this sort, it means we must be the sane ones. I was reminded of this when the National Post, among other outlets, published some amazing photos of North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel.

Based on these photos, North Korea has leaped up my list of must-visit countries, nestling in between France and Indonesia. Undoubtedly Pyongyang is a metropolis to be discovered. Why else would they build an ornate, 105 storey hotel that looks like one of the wonders an advanced gamer might build in Age of Empires 2?

After 20 years, the building is only a few years away from completion. To put that in context, it is about the same amount of time it took to build the great pyramids. It is unclear who laboured on the Hotel, though it’d be fascinating to know. Though it’s clear nothing just is, somethings are because of herculean feats of strength.

This raises another question. Why a hotel? If you’re setting out to build a world wonder, why pretend to be practical.

So why a hotel? Perhaps the plan is to entice western travelers to visit one of the wonders of the world, and stay at it (and only it) while visiting North Korea. Why go anywhere else? And know that the rest of North Korea looks almost exactly like the hotel, only with a more natural beauty.  From the confines of the most spectacular hotel in the world, North Korea can show its true self to the world.

Take a look at the glorious hotel. Then follow this link for even more amazing pictures inside North Korea. Every now and then pictures from the country circulate, and the access is always a pleasure.


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