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South Korea > Antitrust and competition > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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Next generation lawyers

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Kim & Chang is ‘the best team in Korea for antitrust work’, according to one client. Led by Kyung-Taek Jung, the ‘strong’ team ‘clearly understands the rules and workings of the KFTC’ and is regularly instructed by well-known international companies and Korean conglomerates to assist on the most complex mandates. Youngjin Jung ‘is the best in terms of knowledge and practical advice’; Tae-Kyu Kang and Kyung-Yul Lee are involved in a number of the practice' key mandates and are other names to note. Senior foreign attorneys Brian Tae-Hyun Chung and Luke Shin, Sang Hyuk Park and Jung Won Hyun are also highly recommended, as is Gene-Oh (Gene) Kim. Highlights for the team include successfully limiting the scope of KFTC’s review of the Dow Chemical Company. The practice continues to assist Qualcomm in  various KFTC merger reviews in relation to its acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. Sung Eyup Park is recommended for antitrust matters within the IT industry.

Lee & Ko's ‘top of the market’ antitrust practice is ‘well connected to the regulators and provides high-quality, efficient and practical advice top to bottom’. The practice includes a team of Korea and US experienced  economists, and is highly active across the whole spectrum of antitrust work, notably in unfair trade practices, cartels and merger control. Hwan Jeong leads the team; he and Jeong-Ho Sun successfully obtained an unconditional merger clearance for OCI from regulators in Taiwan and China. Acclaimed competition law specialist and ‘talented advocate’ Min-Ho Lee is highly experienced in KFTC practices and is recommended for contentious litigation; he and Pyoung Keun Song are representing LG Electronics in a dispute over a misleading advertisement case against Dyson. In other key matters, Lee and Suruyn Kim, a specialist in cartel investigations and merger reviews, secured an unconditional clearance from the KFTC regarding Aramco Overseas Holdings acquisition of 50% shares in Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Corporation. Managing partner Yong Seok Ahn is ‘one of the best antitrust lawyers in Korea’; he successfully persuaded the US Department of Justice to drop its investigation for collusion against Mando. In other matters, Ahn and Kee Won Shin acted for Korean Air during joint venture negotiations and continue to oversee the global regulatory approval process. The team is also advising Broadcom in relation to merger filings and clearance in relation to its $117bn bid to acquire Qualcomm.

Shin & Kim’s team continues to hold a dominant position within the antitrust and competition practice and the 22-partner strong team continues to act as legal counsel for Qualcomm in its appeal to the Korean Supreme Court in relation to abuse of dominance cases. Cartel and merger control specialist Sangdon Lee assisted Valeo in obtaining merger clearance for its formation of a joint venture with PHC Group across multiple jurisdictions. He and foreign attorney Jeannie Y Jeong led Linde’s merger filings to the KFTC for Linde’s merger with Praxair valued at $85bn. Practice head Young Chul Yim is involved in defending automakers, marine transportation companies and manufacturers against KFTC investigations for collusion and litigation. Other significant figures include John H Choi, Jooyoung Park, Chang-young Cho, Daeyong Baek and Hyun Ah Kim. Sohyun Hong departed to Kim & Chang.

Yulchon stands out for its ‘strategic thinking’ and is ‘very plugged into the Korean business community and has excellent knowledge of the regulatory environment’. The ‘outstanding’ team is jointly led by Sai Ree Yun, Hae Sik Park and Cecil Saehoon Chung, who focus on international antitrust. Chung is particularly highlighted for his ‘exceptional knowledgeable of not only Korean antitrust but cross-border issues as well’. He recently worked closely with Kyu Hyun Kim in handling cross-border merger control matters, for example, for Delta Air Lines in the first-of-its-kind Korean 'metal neutral' joint venture with Korean Air. In another example, Chung was supported by Kim, associate Keon Woong Kim and Young Lan Yea (who ‘adds value to the team’) in handling Glencore’s $1.14bn acquisition of interests in coal mines in Australia from Yancoal. Seuk Joon Lee’s expertise spans cartels, merger reviews, abuse of market dominance and unfair trade practices as well as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. Sung Bom Park is likewise extremely experienced in antitrust and regulatory matters.

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC has a strong offering in contentious antitrust matters and regularly represents clients in investigative KFTC proceedings concerning allegations of domestic and international cartel activities, abuse of market dominance and unfair business practices. Seong Un Yun, Sang Hoon Shin and Junhyun Song helped Samsung Electronics secure clearance from the KFTC on the sale of its printing business to HP. In contentious matters, Keumseok Oh and Ryan Il Kang successfully defended multiplex cinema operators in litigation concerning unfair business practices and claims for damages brought by film producers. The team is also continuing to represent Enplas Display Device in a dispute concerning unfair trade practice. Yunsoo Kim  heads the team.

Yoon & Yang LLC remains actively involved in contentious antitrust matters, for example, managing partner Hoil Yoon, Jae-Young Kim and Sangoh (Jason) Jeon are representing a well-known electronics conglomerate in KFTC investigations of price-fixing, and in another example, the partners are assisting an international bank in an investigation of collusion. Team head Seong-Sig Kim’s focus area covers litigation involving cartels, mergers and unfair trade practices. Chul Ho Kim, Chang Ho Kum, Song Ryu and Kenneth Kim are also names to note.

Jipyong's antitrust practice is well versed in KFTC regulatory provisions and investigations. Gee-Hong Kim and Sang-Jun Kim co-head the group; GH Kim is representing Intel Corporation in appeal litigation against Qualcomm for abuse of market dominance – acting in support of the penalty imposed by the KFTC. In other work SJ Kim was able to successfully convince the KFTC to substantially reduce the penalties imposed on SeAH Steel for alleged collusion. Byung Joo Lee advises on fair trade and corporate law aspects; he handled SK Holdings merger filings across multiple jurisdictions in relation to its acquisition of an interest in LG Siltron. Poom Jang focuses on fair trade disputes.

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Dinner with GC -
Korea 2018

  • China and Hong Kong GC Powerlist

    In May, The Legal 500 and GC Magazine added another country to the list of destinations for their exclusive Dinner with GC series, as South Korea’s elite in-house counsel came together at Mugunghwa in Seoul, for a closed-door discussion on the realities of the role.

    Dinner with GC - Korea 2018

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Legal Developments in South Korea

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  • Korean Financial Regulators Advance Legislation to Introduce Regulatory Sandbox to Spark FinTech

    The 2018 year in review in Korea was notable for the sluggish overall economy, uncertainty surrounding the geo-politics and impact on Korea due to the global trade wars, on-going concerns related to the lack of jobs and unemployment, increased taxes and burdens for businesses and families, and no meaningful improvement or clarity in the current situation for 2019. In response, the Korean National Assembly passed a legislation called the Financial Innovation Support Act (the “FinISA”) on December 7, 2018 to spark the financial services industry in conjunction with FinTech products and services. The FinISA, which will soon take effect in March 2019, is intended to lay the legal foundation to introduce a regulatory sandbox for innovative financial services, where FinTech firms test their new products and services without certain regulatory oversight pursuant to exemptions for a limited period of time (“Sandbox”). As the FinISA exempts or defers application of existing finance-related regulations for new financial technology, products or services with the purpose of fostering the creation of innovative and new financial products and services, it will also support the stabilization of such services in the financial services market at the end of the testing period and is expected that the FinISA will support a revitalization of the FinTech industry which experienced sluggish growth in recent times. In particular, as companies and investors become more interested in security tokens and Security Token Offerings (“STO”) which are regulated by the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act (the “FSCMA”), there have been on-going discussions and debates as to whether the FinISA could lead to a breakthrough in the crypto-asset industry based on blockchain technology. Crypto assets encompasses those assets which utilize blockchain technology where the asset is digitalized by utilization of cryptography, peer-to-peer networks and a public ledger of verified transactions resulting in a ‘units’ of such a crypto asset without any involvement by middle-persons or brokers (e.g., cryptocurrency.
  • Flying Under the Radar

    Flying Under the Radar: Companies Must Increase Awareness of the Potentially Dormant and Disruptive Changes to the Minimum Wage in Korea
  • New Legislation: Amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Act on External Audit of Stock Companies

    The amendment to the Act on External Audit of Stock Companies (the “Act ”) and the enforcement decree thereof (the “Enforcement Decree ”), whose key feature pertains to the external audit and disclosure requirements for limited liability companies, became effective as of November 1, 2018. Certain provisions relating to the category of targets of external audits will become effective with respect to the fiscal years that commence on or after November 1, 2019. Therefore, for the majority of companies whose fiscal years begin on January 1 and ends on December 31 of each year, the revised category will become effective with respect to the fiscal year that begins on January 1, 2020.
  • New Proposed Tax Law Amendments Provide Clarification on the Taxation of Foreign Funds

    On July 30, 2018, the Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance (“MOEF ”) announced the proposed tax law changes/amendments for 2019 and beyond (“Proposals ”). The Proposals are expected to be reviewed and finalized by the Korean National Assembly in December 2018.
  • KFTC to Expand Scope and Penalties of Korea’s Antitrust Enforcement Regime

    Korea’s competition authority, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the “KFTC , has announced a proposal to expand its existing enforcement authority to the courts and prosecutors through a full-scale reform of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade  Act, Korea’s primary competition statute. If all proposed reforms are passed by the National Assembly as currently drafted, the impact on the Korean economy and antitrust enforcement will require companies doing business in Korea to tighten their risk management and compliance measures, as the scope and penalties of Korean antitrust enforcement would be broadened.
  • Korean data law amendments pose new constraints for cross-border online services and data flows

    Under amendments to IT Networks Act, set to take effect in March 2019 , offshore online businesses, meeting thresholds of nexus to Korea, will be required to designate local agent for regulatory oversight purposes.
  • New Legislation Reduces Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Korea

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  • Supreme Court Renders Decision Calling for “Gender Sensitivity” in Sexual Harassment Cases

    Amid the widespread attention that sexual harassment/violence in the workplace has received due to international movements such as the “Me Too” movement, the Supreme Court of Korea has recently rendered a significant decision on the need to reform the judicial system’s approach to sexual harassment cases.
  • [South Korea] Amendment to Unfair Competition Law

    A bill to amend the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act (the “UCPA”) was promulgated on April 17, 2018, and is scheduled to take effect on July 18, 2018.   The bill introduces significant amendments to the UCPA, namely stipulating store interior designs as business marks and making the unauthorized use of “ideas” an act of unfair competition, thereby substantially expanding the applicability of Subparagraph 1 (j) of Article 2 (“fraudulent use of another person’s product”) of the current (or pre-amendment) UCPA.
  • [South Korea] Location information law amended to ease requirement for tracking of objects

    Under changes to Location Information Act, to take effect in October 2018, businesses will be allowed to track goods after obtaining registration instead of license.

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