THE first public photographs from inside North Korea's notorious pyramid-shaped hotel, which has been unfinished for some 25 years, have emerged.
A foreign tour agency released the photographs of the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel.
Beijing-based Koryo Tours got a peek at the interior of the hotel in Pyongyang, the capital. Photos taken by the company Sunday show a bare concrete lobby, as well as sweeping views of Pyongyang from a viewing platform.
North Korea began building the Ryugyong in the 1980s but stopped when funding ran out in the 1990s. Exterior construction resumed three years ago, but few have been allowed inside. Koryo says it will open in two or three years.
The enormous hotel remains a source of fascination – and ridicule – for the outside world. It has been nicknamed the "hotel of doom". It was labelled by Esquire magazine as the "worst building in the history of mankind".
Reports emerged last year suggesting the hotel was finally due to open its doors by April, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation's founder Kim il-sung.
It was in 1987 that the hotel – whose name means Capital of Willows – was first launched with the grandiose ambitions of creating the world's tallest tower.
However, construction ground to a halt in 1993, due to lack of funds following the collapse of the Soviet Union, economic mismanagement and natural disasters.
More immediate concerns such as the state's struggling economy and serious food shortages appeared to overshadow the project, which remained empty and unfinished for 16 years.
During this period, the shell of the hotel which was once emblazoned across North Korean stamps become an increasingly criticised blot on the urban landscape, with the regime even reportedly airbrushing it out of official shots.