Built between 1961 and 1996 to house foreign visitors, many of Pyongyang’s international hotels feature brutalist exteriors. From the outside, they exude the sense of uniformity that is prevalent throughout the capital.

Pyongyang Hotel 27 - Hotels of Pyongyang, North Korea

Pyongyang Hotel exterior.

Nicole Reed / Hotels of Pyongyang


Source: Hotels of Pyongyang

On the inside, however, they tell a different story. Scullin and Reed encountered grand marble-lined foyers decorated with fake flowers and pastel colors …

Chongnyon Hotel - Youth 33

Chongnyon Hotel foyer.

Nicole Reed / Hotels of Pyongyang


Source: Hotels of Pyongyang

Before North Korea closed its borders to tourists due COVID-19, it received just a few hundred thousand tourists per year, mostly from China. In 2017, the United States banned citizens from visiting North Korea following the death of UVA student Otto Warmbier, who was detained by North Korean officials.

Ryanggung Hotel 16 - Hotels of Pyongyang, North Korea

Ryanggang Hotel shop and seating area.

Nicole Reed / Hotels of Pyongyang


Source: New York Times, United Press International, New York Post, US Department of State

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