Paddy Power’s Pyongyang problem

Bookie agreed to sponsor former basketball star Dennis Rodman’s trip to play an exhibition match for his friend, Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un  and former NBA player Dennis Rodman

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former NBA player Dennis Rodman

 

It is two years since Paddy Power uncharacteristically bit off more publicity than it could chew in North Korea.

Remember it agreed to sponsor former basketball star Dennis Rodman’s trip there to play an exhibition match for his friend, Kim Jong-un, the country’s cherubic dictator?

Paddy eventually yanked its sponsorship after a storm of criticism over its decision to pull a publicity stunt in a country full of human rights abuses. Well, the issue hasn’t gone away.

Paektu Cultural Exchange agency, a North Korea-focused business run by Michael Spavor, a Canadian with close links to the Kim regime, is seeking a European Order for Payment (EOP) against Paddy Power.

The EOP dispute, for which proceedings were issued in the High Court last week, suggests there is a disagreement between the two sides over fees.Spavor was prominent in helping to organise the Rodman circus.

At the time of the publicity furore, Sky News reported that Paddy Power planned to fulfil its “contractual obligations”, although it pulled its sponsorship of the match.

No word back from the bookmaker on the chances of an armistice in its Korean dispute.

Spavor, unsurprisingly, would not comment. There are gulags in North Korea, you know. According to his Twitter feed, however, he was in the country as recently as last Sunday. Spavor was having breakfast in the Koryo hotel in Pyonyang, when a waitress greeted him with a “happy nice day!”

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