Pyongyang's White Elephant


The photo above is Pyongyang seen from space via Google Maps.  What could possibly cast a shadow that big?  I mean, that is huge.  For a comparison at the same magnification (but alas, not same time of day, so the shadows differ), here's a shot of Toronto's CN Tower (until recently the tallest freestanding structure on earth):

It turns out  that this North Korean monstrosity is the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel.  After the South Koreans built a Westin in  the 1980s, the North Koreans decided to build this 105 storey behemoth.  One shudders to think what would have happened if South Korea had built a Ritz.

Anyways, the North Koreans spent over 2% of their GDP on it, but ran out of cash (pesky famine!) and it's unfinished.  It's got no windows or electricity and simply looms over the city like a plot element from a J.G. Ballard dystopia.

Here's a shot of how it currently looks:


Thursday, January 10, 2008

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