Pre- and Post-Rennovation
Then after the show its the after party. And after the party its the hotel lobby. -R. Kelly, Ignition (Remix)
Following a winter hiatus, the Koryo Hotel is back open for business and sporting a new look. Return visitors will be surprised by the major changes to original hotel (above), which since 1985 has hosted some of Pyongyang's most distinguished guests - from Jimmy Carter to Dennis Rodman - and their parties. Indeed, after the Diplomatic Club, it's the Koryo lobby.
Fans of the old retro style may be disappointed with the new clean look (below). While the overall layout remains the same, a kind of white marble covers the walls, brightening the once dark lobby.
Lobby seating has been made more conducive to private meetings around coffee tables in comfy chairs, rather than sitting ducks in a row on vinyl clad seats, facing off with unknown persons across the way.
A large carved image of a White Tiger (백호-白虎), copied from the ancient Koguryo-era tomb murals near Pyongyang, has replaced what once was a rainbow lit full-wall fish tank. The White Tiger is the guardian spirit of the west. Pyongyang is located in the old west-country (서도-西道）of Korea and in the past the city has been known as Sogyong (서경-西京 ), or 'western capital'.
Nevertheless vestiges of the old Koryo lobby remain. Down the interior stairwell faux rocks of Korea's rugged eastern coast still stand proudly and the vintage sign still warmly welcomes would be performers to the basement karaoke. Whatever changes life may bring, we can always revisit the past on the karaoke floor. Keep on singin'.
'Turn Back the Clock Thursdays' brings you 'then and now' views of Korea from more than two decades of Koryo Tours' trips to the DPRK and images in the public domain.