The Legal 500

South Korea

South Korea > Legal market overview

Editorial

A significant amount of domestic activity in the Korean market over the past year has focused on the employment sector, in particular relating to the disputes arising from the jurisdiction’s singular ‘ordinary wage’ policies.

A number of class action lawsuits are currently pending before the Korean courts and the substantial retrospective wage pay-outs that could be ordered are potentially ruinous for small and medium sized companies. These companies are therefore choosing their counsel carefully, and many of the country’s biggest firms – including Lee & Ko and Kim & Chang – have been highly active in this area, as have Bae, Kim & Lee LLC Yulchon, Yoon & Yang LLC and Shin & Kim.

Elsewhere, lawyers report a steady increase in outbound transactions and investment, fuelled largely by the importance the Korean government is now attaching to such activity. Korean companies are still mainly active in Asia and the US in this area, but European markets and projects are starting to be explored. There has also been a small spike in capital markets activity.

For foreign firms entering the market, the competition is stiff. A number are well positioned to compete with the domestic market leaders for cross-border corporate, banking and M&A work, but all are having to identify a USP to guarantee prosperity in the long term.

Press releases

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Legal Developments in South Korea

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Essilor’s Proposed Combination with an Optical Lens Maker in Korea is Blocked

    In its press release on March 17, 2014, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the "KFTC") blocked the proposed acquisition of 50% shares by Essilor Amera Investment Pte. Ltd. (a subsidiary of Essilor International S.A., the largest optical lens maker in the world) in Daemyung Optical Co., Ltd. (the second largest optical lens maker in Korea) citing inter alia the likely lessening effect on price competition and the probable future abuses of the enhanced market power. On top of the expressed competitive concerns, the KFTC observed that allowing foreign firms to acquire local firms and turn them into their local sub-contractors worsens the competitive market structure of the domestic optical lens industry.
  • Recent Issues of Data Protection Regulation in Korea

    The Personal Information Protection Act ("PIPA") was enacted as a general law of personal information in March 2011 to fulfill the need for presiding rules to govern personal information protection. In fact, there have already been a number of special laws governing personal information protection in various special areas and cases, such as The Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization Information Protection ("Network Act") governing information and communications services, and the Use and Protection of Credit Information Act ("Credit Information Act") governing personal credit information. Special laws prevail over the general law, when in conflict with individual articles of the general law.
  • Comprehensive Measures to Protect Personal Data in the Financial Sector

    The following is a summary of the press releases made by the Financial Services Commission on 10 March 2014. These are action items and policies that the FSC and relevant ministries are seeking to implement. The following measures have developed from a series of measures previously announced since the data leakage from the three credit card companies were revealed last January.
  • Essilor’s Proposed Combination with an Optical Lens Maker in Korea is Blocked

    In its press release on March 17, 2014, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the "KFTC") blocked the proposed acquisition of 50% shares by Essilor Amera Investment Pte. Ltd. (a subsidiary of Essilor International S.A., the largest optical lens maker in the world) in Daemyung Optical Co., Ltd. (the second largest optical lens maker in Korea) citing inter alia the likely lessening effect on price competition and the probable future abuses of the enhanced market power. On top of the expressed competitive concerns, the KFTC observed that allowing foreign firms to acquire local firms and turn them into their local sub-contractors worsens the competitive market structure of the domestic optical lens industry.
  • Ordinary Wage: After the 2013 Supreme Court Decision

    1. First Trial Court Decision on Employer's Good Faith Argument On December 18, 2013, the Supreme Court of Korea made an en banc decision that ordinary wage includes regularly paid fixed bonus amounts. The Supreme Court also expressly noted that if an employer is able to prove that (i) there is an agreement between the employer and the labor union that fixed bonuses are excluded from ordinary wages and (ii) paying employees for past underpayment of overtime wages will cause a substantial detriment to the management or a major threat to the existence of the company due to the unexpected financial burden, then employees' claims for past underpayment can be denied based on the principle of good faith. However, the Supreme Court did not provide specific criteria for such denial, which caused controversy over the definite scope of application of its judgment (please refer to our newsletter of December 19, 2013 in this regard).
  • Criminal Breach of Duty (Bae-im) under Korean Law

    Criminal breach of duty, or bae-im in Korean, is a typical crime on which owners, directors, officers or managers of corporations and businesses in Korea are frequently indicted. A person commits bae-im when he or she, in dealing with the affairs of another person, breaches his or her duty and obtains, or enables a third person to obtain, a pecuniary advantage through such breach, thereby causing a loss to the person to whom the duty is owed. Bae-im is similar to the concept of Untreue under German law, while bae-im is broader in scope than Untreue in that a mere attempt to commit bae-im is also punishable in Korea.
  • Greater Labor Protections for Non-regular Employees

    On September 19, 2014, the Act on Protection of Fixed-Term and Part-time Workers ("Temporary Workers Act") and the Act on Protection of Dispatch Workers ("Dispatch Workers Act") were amended to offer greater protections to non-regular workers. In particular, (i) employers will be subject to greater economic implications if they receive a corrective order for discriminatory treatment of non-regular workers and (ii) part-time workers will be entitled to receive compensation for any overtime work performed.
  • South Korea: Draft Act on Compensation and Relief of Environmental Pollution Damage

    The Korean Government has launched a government project to establish a system to compensate and insure against environmental pollution damage, and is pursuing the introduction of a legal relief system for environmental pollution damage. Such Government initiative is intended to address the current situation where environmental pollution accidents inflict serious damage on society due to the enormous amount of tax money that is required for curing the pollution, while companies that caused the accident sometimes go bankrupt because they cannot bear the financial burden of paying the compensation. Moreover, the victims of environmental pollution accidents are often unable to obtain proper compensation due to the burden of proving that their injury resulted from the pollution or due to the prolonged litigation process which is unavoidable in light of the nature of environmental pollution.
  • South Korea: KFTC Approves First Consent Decree

    On March 12, 2014, the Commissioners of the Korea Fair Trade Commission ("KFTC") approved a consent decree with Korea's major Internet portal companies, Naver and Naver Business Platform (collectively "Naver") and Daum Communications ("Daum"). This was the first time since its introduction that a consent decree was used to conclude a case before the KFTC. With this consent decree, the KFTC's investigation of Naver and Daum for their alleged abuse of market dominance ended without any finding of liability.
  • South Korea: Recent Developments in Broadcasting Regulations

    Recent regulatory developments in the ever-changing broadcasting environment are summarized below.

Press Releases worldwide

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  • VEGAS LEX drafts local air services financing program

    The VEGAS LEX law firm is working on proposals concerning additional funding sources for regional air service programs in Russia
  • Positive Developments for the Economy of Cyprus

    800x600 It has been around one year and a half since the Eurogroup decisions to recapitalise Bank of Cyprus via a bail-in on 25 th of March 2013. Cyprus has worked hard since then to exit the financial crisis and to maintain its status and reputation as an international financial centre. Within October 2014, several positive developments which took place suggest that Cyprus is on a good path. These positive developments include: Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";} Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";}
  • VDB Loi assists with first Commercial Tax registration by a non-resident

    VDB Loi, a leading legal and tax advisory firm in Myanmar, was this week able to register an unnamed non-resident foreign company without a branch in Myanmar for Commercial Tax (CT) purposes. According to Myanmar’s tax laws, 5% CT is due on, among other things, all services rendered in the country. This includes services that are performed in Myanmar by foreign or non-resident companies such as engineering, installation, drilling or consulting. Until recently, however, there was confusion about the implementation by foreign companies, many of which were under the impression that the CT did not apply to them, unless they formally opened a branch in the country. That confusion has now been lifted as the Internal Revenue Department (IRD) has issued the first CT registration for a foreign service provider who has no presence or branch in Myanmar.
  • Péter Köves elected Vice President of IBA Bar Issues Commission

    Péter Köves has been elected as the Vice President of the Bar Issues Commission of the International Bar Association ("IBA"), the world's largest association for lawyers, law firms and bars.
  • "POPOV & PARTNERS” WITH A NEW ADDRESS

    We are pleased to inform you that, from 28.10.2014 onward, "Popov & Partners" Law office will be working and admitting clients at a new location. Striving to be closer to the clients, the business and the institutions, we have chosen a site situated at the heart of downtown Sofia, which has excellent transport links and is easily accessible from all parts of the city. The address is: Sveta Nedelya Square N 4, floor 4.We are pleased to inform you that, from 28.10.2014 onward, "Popov & Partners" Law office will be working and admitting clients at a new location. Striving to be closer to the clients, the business and the institutions, we have chosen a site situated at the heart of downtown Sofia, which has excellent transport links and is easily accessible from all parts of the city. The address is: Sveta Nedelya Square N 4, floor 4.
  • Moldova: Amendments to the Legislation on Pledges

    On 25 July 2014, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova (Moldova) adopted Act No. 173/2014 on amending and supplementing of certain legal acts (Act No. 173). Act No. 173 will enter into force on 8 November 2014 and will inter alia change the Act No. 449/2001 on pledges (Pledges Act). The effected changes will have a direct impact on both guarantees issued before the entrance into force of the Act No. 173 (which will have to be dealt under the new legal provisions) and on obligations to be secured under the new legal frame. Act No. 173 is also meant to introduce a series of novelties into Moldovan legislation.  read more...
  • Avellum Partners’ Tax Practice Recommended by International Tax Review

    Kyiv, 22 October 2014  - Avellum Partners is proud to announce that our Tax Practice has been highly recognized by International Tax Review (" ITR "), a highly reputable international magazine for tax professionals published by Euromoney Plc. In particular, Avellum Partners was ranked within Tier 3 according to the World Tax and World Transfer Pricing 2015 proving its leading reputation in Ukraine.
  • Boult Wade Tennant grows the Trade Mark and Domain Names team with six new professionals

     
  • Recent publication: Enforcing patent rights effectively (2014-01-13)

    Yu-Lan Kuo, senior partner, Jane Wang, associate partner and Charles Chen, associate partner of the firm published "Enforcing patent rights effectively" in IP Value 2014 edition. This article first appeared in IP Value 2014 - An International Guide for the Boardroom, a supplement to IAM magazine, published by The IP Media Group. To view the issue in full, please go to "http://www.iam-magazine.com".  
  • Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law published “IFLR PROJECT FINANCE REPORT 2014”...

    Jackson Shuai-Sheng Huang, Partner, and Simon Hsiao, Senior Associate, published an article in "IFLR PROJECT FINANCE REPORT 2014" introducing the current implementations of project finance in Taiwan.