Antitrust and competition: local firms in South Korea

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Comprising Korean and foreign antitrust specialists from varying backgrounds, including former KFTC officials and economics experts, Bae, Kim & Lee LLC is a top choice for Korean competition law and for multi-jurisdictional merger filings involving the US, EU, China, Turkey, Indonesia, and others. Seong Un Yun ’s practice focuses on competition law, corporate governance, regulations in the pharmaceutical market and damages claims involving fair trade issues. Keumseok Oh and senior foreign attorney, Sanghoon Shin are expert on cartels, merger controls, abuse of dominance, and unfair trade practices, particularly in an M&A context. Hyun A Kim lends complementary expertise in environmental regulatory law. ‘ExceptionalJunghun Kim counsels international clients responding to the KFTC’s investigation.

Practice head(s):

Seong Un Yun

Other key lawyers:

Sanghoon Shin ; Keumseok Oh; Junghun Kim; Hyun A Kim

Testimonials

‘Korean and American lawyers work together to lead international cases, making it very easy to work. Their advice would be very reasonable.’

‘Junghun Kim is an exceptional competition lawyer. He has a deep knowledge and experience in this area. His English and Japanese is very well and it would be valuable for the client to assist for international cases.’

‘BKL team has tremendous experience in all aspects of antitrust laws and understands the company’s business and needs.’

Key clients

Daewoong Pharmaceutical

E-Mart

Hoya Lens Korea (Korea branch of Hoya Corporation)

Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings

Kakao Mobility

LG Chem

LS Corp. and its subsidiaries

Pan Ocean

SK Telecom

Work highlights

  • Advised E-Mart in preparing merger filings in regard to E-Mart’s acquisition of eBay Korea, from eBay Inc., one of the largest M&A deals in the Korean retail industry.
  • Coordinating the global merger filing efforts for the proposed transaction between LG Chem, Ltd. and Toray Industries, Inc.. The parties entered into an agreement for the establishment of a 50-50 joint venture and construction of a battery separator film manufacturing plant in Hungary.
  • Legal advisor to Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings in preparing merger filings in multiple jurisdictions including Korea, China, Vietnam, Russia and Turkey, as well as conducting preliminary merger control analysis in various other jurisdictions.

Kim & Chang

With the largest antitrust team in Korea, Kim & Chang is ‘unparalleled in terms of expertise and depth of resources‘. Continuing to secure its position as a leading practice, the firm further strengthened its bench and contentious capabilities with the recruitment of Bongseog Kim, a former non-standing commissioner of the KFTC. Co-chairs Youngjin Jung and Gene-Oh (Gene) Kim have outstanding experience in all areas of antitrust enforcement in merger control, international cartel and abuse of market dominance. Min-Ho Lee is an expert in antitrust and consumer protection laws, particularly those involving IP rights; his practice is complemented with Brian Tae-Hyun Chung‘s experience advising clients in the TMT, tobacco and retail sectors. Foreign attorney Jung-Won Hyun and Hemi Lee are notable for their expertise in the healthcare and IT industries.

Other key lawyers:

Min-Ho Lee; Jung-Won Hyun; Brian Tae-Hyun Chung ; Bongseog Kim; Hemi Lee

Testimonials

‘Kim & Chang’s antitrust team is unparalleled in the Korean market in terms of expertise and depth of resources. The team, based on its experience in the most cutting edge cases in Korea, always comes up with innovative views benefiting the client in times of need. ‘

‘Kim & Chang’s antitrust team is very reliable in terms of professional knowledge, and they provide practical advice based on multiple experience in enforcement cases. Highly supportive especially in handling on-site investigations.’

‘Jung-Won Hyun is very responsive and knowledgeable, and her advice is always helpful and practical.’

‘Hemi Lee is a dedicated attorney with the client’s best interest at heart. She is a great communicator and possesses great strength in breaking down complex cases into facts and legal arguments from a strategic point of view. She has played a crucial role in the Kim & Chang team’s securing important wins for the company in recent years, and comes highly recommended.

Key clients

Apple Inc.

Booking.com

SK Inc.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Audi/VW/Porsche

Hyundai Motor Group

Siemens Healthineers AG

AstraZeneca plc

Korean Air Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented Korean Air in the global merger filing for the KRW 1.5 trillion acquisition of 63.9 percent of shares in Asiana Airlines.
  • Advised multinational medical equipment companies on their appeal seeking reversal of KFTC administrative sanctions regarding alleged abuse of market dominance under the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Law.
  • Represented Faurecia in the KFTC’s review of its acquisition of HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA.

Lee & Ko

Comprising one of Korea’s foremost antitrust practices, Lee & Ko is know for its ability to ‘pierce the legal issues at hand precisely and concisely’ and its prominent antitrust criminal defense group, led by Pyoung Keun Song , together with Jang Woo Park and former persecutor, In Seok Lee. The team often represents Korean and global multinationals in investigations by the KFTC. Yong Seok Ahn and Hwan Jeong co-head the department. For cartel review cases and international mergers, Suruyn Kim, Jang Hyun Ka and associate Jung Won Kwon are also recommended. 

Practice head(s):

Hwan Jeong 

Testimonials

‘Based on their experience in conducting various fair trade cases, the Lee&Ko Antitrust and Competition Team is excellent at catching key issues and suggesting prompt responses to clients compared with other law firms. It was very impressive to see them not only provide comprehensive solutions at early stages of the case, but also actively communicate with clients.’

‘The Lee & Ko antitrust practice is unique in that it regularly acquires, and utilizes industry insights from in-house experts and economists. The solutions provided by Lee & Ko pierce the legal issues at hand precisely and concisely, without overbilling. All contacts with personnel have been professional and friendly, with quick turnarounds.’

‘The individuals are diligent and have expertise in antitrust and competition issues.’

Key clients

BMW AG

NAVER Corporation

Mirae Asset Group

DL E&C Co., Ltd., Daewoo ENC Co., Ltd. and SK E&C Co., Ltd.

Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd.

SK Telecom Co., Ltd.

BIGHIT MUSIC Co., Ltd.

Hyundai Doosan Infracore Co., Ltd.

Permira Group

Work highlights

  • Represented Korea Shipowners’ Association, Wan Hai Lines Ltd., Sinotrans Ltd., World Shipping Counsel, among other investigation targets, in the KFTC’s ongoing probe of alleged bid-rigging and price-fixing of container ship transport services. This was an exceptional case because it raised the issue of whether the collaborative acts among the companies were permitted by laws such as the Marine Transportation Act.
  • Represent BMW AG in the KFTC’s investigation into allegations that German automobile OEMs colluded to delay the development of environmental technologies for automobiles.
  • Represented NAVER Corporation in the KFTC investigation on its abuse of market dominance and unfair trade practices of banning counterparties from providing real estate information to its competitors of real-estate platform service.

Shin & Kim

One of Korea’s best known full-service firms, Shin & Kim maintains a strong presence in merger filings for high-end M&A transactions, cartel investigations and abuse of dominance cases. Senior counsel Young Chul Yim leads the group and is a well-known authority in the market, known for is activity in several landmark cases. As a ‘excellent‘ senior foreign lawyer, John Choiknows how to deal with cases in an international environment’ and has twenty-five years experience in major international cartel and abuse of market dominance cases. Sangdon Lee is the firm's lead specialist in merger filings, and foreign lawyer, Jooyoung Park is recommended for unfair trade practice and competition compliance programs.

Practice head(s):

Young Chul Yim

Other key lawyers:

John Choi; Jooyoung Park; Sangdon Lee; Hyun-Young Ju

Testimonials

‘The team is very strong in handling international competition investigations and related litigation. They are well aware of the interactions between competition authorities on a global scale. Shin & Kim is our first choice in Korea for global competition matters. They know the key decision makers within Korea well.’

‘They have shown professionalism and very good work ethic in dealing with clients. They are one of the top class in Korean legal market.’

‘John Choi is an excellent lawyer, who knows how to deal with cases in an international environment. His advice is always well thought-through and pragmatic.’

Key clients

Qualcomm Inc.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

SK Group

Hyundai Steel Co., Ltd.

Koninklijke Philips N.V.

Asiana Airlines Inc.

Aktiebolaget Volvo

Daimler AG

Work highlights

  • Continues to serve as the only Korean law firm involved in all Qualcomm on-going abuse of dominance investigation cases in Korea and Qualcomm’s ongoing U.S. cases.
  • Advising on the multi-jurisdictional merger filings on behalf of Asiana for its share acquisition by The Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., Asiana’s rival and Korea’s largest national carrier airline.
  • Represented Stellantis N.V. in its merger filing for the establishment of a joint venture with Hon Hai Group (an electronic manufacturing business) to develop a state-of-the-art driver information system.

Yoon & Yang LLC

Yoon & Yang LLC is routinely instructed in cartels, mergers, resale price maintenance, and unfair business practices, both as advisory counsel and in litigation in the Korean and foreign courts. Managing partner Hoil Yoon has several decades of experience handling high-profile investigations, often brought before the KFTC. Seong-Sig Kim is the other key figure who handles business combinations, cartels and unfair trade practices. Song Ryu advises on corporate leniency programs, merger clearance and internal audits/investigations.

Practice head(s):

Hoil Yoon

Other key lawyers:

Seong-Sig Kim; Song Ryu

Testimonials

‘The team has various strengths and capabilities in this area. Each of the team member has great knowledge and know-how. The team is a great team work and has great communication skills with FTC. ‘

‘The valuable quality of the team members is their mental strength. They look ahead and foresee the potential issues ahead, and ably guide and protect the clients through claims with FTC.’

 

Key clients

Microsoft

Samsung Electronics

Cathay Pacific Airways

SK Hynix, SK E&S

Korean Air

Raytheon Technologies Corporation

British America Tobacco Korea

Qualcomm

Hanwha Corp.

Work highlights

  • Representing Qualcomm in its Supreme Court appeal to KFTC’s imposition of fines arising out of its alleged abuse of licensing practices in South Korea.
  • Successfully represented Hyundai Steel in KFTC investigations for alleged steel scrap purchase price cartels among steel makers in South Korea.
  • Represented both Sejin Metal and Hanyung Metal  in investigations on multiple cartel conducts of steel manufacturers. Among such conducts, the KFTC imposed an administrative fine of a total of KRW 20.6 billion on eight companies that rigged the bid held by Hyundai Motor Company from 2011 to 2021 for the purchase of aluminium alloy products.

Yulchon

Antitrust forms a core pillar in Yulchon‘s practice, where it advises a myriad of Korean and international clients on merger control, cartel abuse and unfair trade practices. It is also experienced in misleading labelling and advertising practices. Continuing to expand its contentious offering, the practice welcomed KFTC veteran Jin Chul Bae, and Young Son Shin, formerly vice-chair of the KFTC, both in late 2021. Practice chair Sung Bom Park also heads the healthcare team, and is the lead partner on merger control cases involving global transactions in the aviation, healthcare and telecom industries. Foreign attorney Cecil Saehoon Chung is noted for multi-jurisdictional antitrust, consumer protection and trade regulation issues.

Practice head(s):

Sung Bom Park

Other key lawyers:

Jin Chul Bae; Young Son Shin; Cecil Saehoon Chung

Testimonials

The Yulchon team provides sold and reliable advice. They are among the top firms in Korea. Cecil is always very responsive and helpful.’

‘Very strong competition practice, with an emphasis on practical solutions to advance the client’s interests.’

‘Cecil Chung has unparalleled experience with handling both US and Korean competition matters. Clients recognize the wisdom of his advice.’

‘Cecil in particular is unique given his experience in the US, which enables him to deal well with US clients doing business in South Korea and with Korean companies doing business in the US.’

‘They are very knowledgeable of Korean competition law and the KFTC. They also are very responsive and collegial.’

Key clients

Qualcomm

Schaeffler AG

Continental AG

Delta Air Lines

Microsoft

Agoda

Hanjin Transportation

GIC

Hitachi Automotive Systems

Work highlights

  • Continue to defend Qualcomm as co-defense counsel against the KFTC’s allegations of abuse of dominance in mobile communication technologies, first before the KFTC, then at the Seoul High Court and now before the Korean Supreme Court.
  • Successfully represented Delta in its “metal-neutral” contractual JV with Korean Air, the first of its kind in Korea.
  • Advising Microsoft in its $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher.

DR & AJU LLC

Sang Mo Koo is the lead competition partner at DR & AJU LLC, which is primarily instructed in investigations and litigations with the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). Former KFTC investigator, Ki Sung Lee is another key litigator. Jeong Ran Lee holds over 15 years of experience in competition law and responding to investigations.

Practice head(s):

Sang Moo Koo

Other key lawyers:

Ki Sung Lee; Jeong Ran Lee

Key clients

LG Household & Health Care Ltd.

DL E&C Co., Ltd., KCC Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd.

Jeil Construction

LG Household & Health Care, Ltd.

Kolon Global Corporation

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented DL E&C Co., Ltd., and KCC Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. in the Korean Fair Trade Commission  investigation and review proceedings.
  • Represented LG Household & Health Care, Ltd. in reporting Coupang to the KFTC for its violation of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act, and the KFTC imposed a fine of approximately KRW 2 billion on Coupang.
  • Represented defendant, Kolon Global Corporation in long-standing litigation, which ultimately led to  the decision to reject all of the Claimant’s damage claims after eight years of litigation.

Jipyong

Jipyong’s antitrust and competition group is a significant player in the field of competition law in the context of online platforms. It represents and advises major domestic online platform service providers such as Naver, Coupang, and Kakao. Working largely in the domestic market, practice head Gee-Hong Kim handles investigations regarding alleged abuse of market dominance, cartels, bid rigging and insider trading.

Practice head(s):

Gee Hong Kim

Testimonials

‘Lots of practical experience and excellent case control skills. Providing opinions in consideration of client’s individual situation.’

Key clients

InfoBank Corporation

Naver Corporation

SK Holdings

SPC SAMLIP CO., LTD., SPC Group and its management

The Korea Fair Trade Commission

Tesla Korea Limited

SANDBOX NETWORK Inc.

Hyundai L&C

Work highlights

  • Represented InfoBank Corporation in successfully reversing the Supreme Court’s decision to remand the case concerning margin squeeze against a competing corporate messaging service provider by a mobile telecommunication company.
  • Acting in administrative litigation on alleged abuse of market dominance by Naver Corporation, Korea’s largest Internet search engine, through adjustment of search algorithm.
  • Representing SPC SAMLIP CO., LTD., SPC Group and its management in criminal investigation and administrative proceedings in connection with unfair supporting practice of South Korea’s largest bakery company.