It’s not surprising to learn that taking a sightseeing trip to North Korea is an extensively choreographed affair with little freedom to explore on your own. According to many travelers, the only real time you have away from the watchful eyes of your handlers is within the safe confines of your hotel. However, this does not mean that we pesky foreigners haven’t engaged in some slight acts of civil disobedience before bedtime.
The Yanggakdo International Hotel (click here for the hotel’s promotional video) is one of the very few choices foreign travelers have when staying in Pyongyang. While you can roam around most of the hotel’s hallways, revolving restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, and even go outside a bit, one restricted area has created a good deal of speculative buzz on travel blogs.
That’s right. It’s the mysterious 5th floor. There’s no button for the 5th on the elevators, and while there is stair access, it is an area clearly off-limits to guests. However, this didn’t stop a couple brave travelers from venturing into the unknown. Head on over to Business Insider for the story and a few unsettling pictures taken of the hallways (the mix of propaganda, dingy lighting, and uncomfortably low ceilings really set the mood). While many theories exist, exactly what the 5th floor is used for is not known for certain. Is it a foreign guest room surveillance center? Detention Facility? Laundry room?