Ryugyong Hotel Opening: Did the Kempinski try to buy the Ryugyong Hotel?

Seeing this is a relatively new blog, and not much seems to be happening with the Ryugyong, AND I have not been to North Korea it’s time to have a bit of a throwback to when the Kempinski allegedly were going to open the Ryugyong Hotel. Obviously this did not happen, but why?

I actually feel quite silly for leaving this out of my history of the Ryugyong Hotel, but with hindsight the story is as intriguing as it is bizarre, and thus deserves its own blog.

In 2008 Orascom were given the rights to create the Koryolink cellphone network in North Korea. Well! The North Korean phone network deserves its own blog (and may well get one), but aside from doing phone stuff Oraascom also know how to build stuff. So, between 2008 and 2009 they put up windows on the outside of the Ryugyong, took off the massive rusty crane, and things started to look good, but what next?

In November 2012 a leading member of the Kempinski group announced to a shocked crowd in Seoul that Kempinski were for the Ryungyong Hotel opening under a management contract from Orascom which would include 150 rooms, office space, restaurants, a ballroom, and well you pretty much name it and they planned to put it there.

Then North Korea started doing some missile tests and told foreigners to get out of Seoul. As you’d expect this kind of put a damper on what Kempinski had describes as a “money printing machine should North Korea ever open up”.

Things then went quiet before Kempinski announced “No contract was concluded for the management of the hotel and as so market entry is not possible at this time”.

Thus the dream was over, pretty much before it had begun. There’s been a lot of progress on the Ryugyong Hotel since, but it might be a long time until we witness the fever pitch that was when Kempinski were rumored to be taking over the “hotel of doom”.

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