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North Korea: Yanggakdo International Hotel's Hidden 5th Floor Captivating Foreigners

Tourists can't help but explore the hidden space, but one's now paying the price.

16/03/2016 19:38 GMT | Updated 05/07/2017 16:26 BST

A hidden fifth floor at one of North Korea’s leading tourist hotels is captivating foreigners - and encouraging some to risk breaking the country’s strict laws.

Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo International Hotel is popular among organised tours to the secretive state.

And one of its guests, Otto Warmbier, was sentenced this week to 15 years hard labour for attempting to steal a poster from a “staff holding area” at the hotel.

This is thought to have been on the infamous fifth floor.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
American student Otto Warmbier, centre, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, on 16 March

Calvin Sun, an American travel blogger and trip organiser, told The Huffington Post UK that the allure of the space enticed his group to take risks during their week-long stay at the hotel.

"We went back six times," he says of his visits to the fifth floor in 2011. "We saw desks with screens and monitoring equipment, the space was still in the Cold War when tensions were higher."

And in a revealing blog, Sun documents his visit to the hidden space and rare photos reveal large propaganda posters, strange layouts, and intriguing equipment...

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Sun continued: "There are the weird propaganda posters that adorn the walls. Because the floor is dark and empty, the posters seemed to be screaming at us to listen. Too bad none of us could read Korean.

"And there you have it: North Korea being so over the top, it reaches another kind of alternate reality on the fifth floor."

 

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