Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Inside The World’s Newest Mega-Skyscraper

The 123-story Lotte World Tower in Seoul may not be the tallest building in the world—it's in fifth place—but it's got a few record-breaking statistics up its sleeve. For one, it boasts the world's highest glass-bottomed observation deck in a building. Visitors can stroll onto the glass a vertigo-inducing 1,640 feet—or half a kilometer—above the ground. It's also home to the world's highest swimming pool in a building, on the 85th floor, and the world's fastest elevator, which can whisk visitors to the top in one minute. But more than the superlatives, the opening of South Korea's tallest building on April 3 could provide a much needed distraction for Lotte Group. The group’s chairman, Shin Dong-bin, and three other family members went on trial March 20 on charges ranging from embezzlement to fiduciary breaches, while China has been targeting the company's stores in retaliation for providing land for a U.S. missile-defense system.

After almost seven years of planning and 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) in spending, Lotte Group is finally unveiling its tower to the public. The building boasts some record-setting amenities: highest glass floor at the top of a building and highest swimming pool.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The tower is twice the height of its nearest Seoul rival and is the tallest building in South Korea. It should have opened two weeks earlier, but the grand unveiling was put on hold after an elevator malfunction.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

If you're feeling queasy, don't look down! The glass-floor observation deck on the 118th floor gives visitors a bird's eye view of the city, suspending them above a busy Seoul intersection.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

A tunnel carries visitors to the observation deck. Lotte says its tower and accompanying Lotte World Mall will generate 10 trillion won in economic benefits a year and attract 50 million tourists.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The timing's not great, however. South Korea is in the midst of a slowdown. Household income grew at the slowest pace on record last year, rising 0.6 percent. Consumption expenditure fell 0.5 percent, the first decline.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Other facilities at the site include a spectacular concert hall with seating for 2,000 people, an aquarium, cinema and food hall.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The Lotte World amusement park as seen from the 102nd floor of the Lotte World Tower, during construction. As well as rides, the theme park contains an ice rink and folk museum.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

From up in the air to under water. Visitors to the aquarium have the chance to get up close and personal with its marine inhabitants.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The Lotte World Tower, center left, illuminated at night, taken on December 11, 2016. The building casts a long shadow in Seoul, where the family-run conglomerates, also known as the chaebol, have come under increasing scrutiny and criticism.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The Lotte World Tower is transformed into a beacon of color to celebrate its official opening.

Photographer: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images