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South Korea > Corporate and M&A > Corporate and M&A – Local firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A – Local firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Dong Woo Seo, Byoung-Ki Lee and Sky Yang jointly lead the corporate and M&A practice at Bae, Kim & Lee LLC. Recent standout transactions include Sungjo Yun, Mok H Kim and Myoung Seok Oh advising on Unilever's acquisition of 95.39% of shares in Carver Korea, from Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs and Carver's founder for $2.7bn. Recently promoted partner Ho Kyung Chang assists international and Korean clients with cross-border M&A transactions, joint ventures, foreign and private equity investments. Joonki Yi is an expert in cross-border deals within the areas of energy, natural resources and defence. Other noted work includes advising KB Securities on the acquisition of 99.4% shares in Maritime Securities; Lee and Sun Hee Park acted for SM Entertainment and its affiliates in forming a strategic partnership with the country’s largest mobile carrier, SK Telecom.

Kim & Chang has strengthened its team with the recruitment of M&A specialists Woojae Kim and Eun Joo Kang from Paul Hastings LLP and Bae, Kim & Lee LLC respectively. In one of Korea’s largest outbound transactions to date, Kyung-Yoon Lee, Joon Kim and Sookyung Lee acted as lead counsel to SK Hynix, one of the main financial investors of the consortium led by Bain Capital, which acquired Toshiba Memory from Toshiba Corporation for $2bn.  Elsewhere, Shin Kwon Lim advised MBK Partners on the $1.1bn purchase of 100% of shares in Daesung Industrial Gases. The team also assisted on the sale of Lock & Lock shares to a private equity firm. Jong Koo Park, Young Jay Ro and Young Man Huh are recommended for being ‘experts in the field’.

Lee & Ko’s ‘experienced, dedicated and client-focused’ team, led by Hyun Tae Kim, is involved in sizeable transactions in the pharmaceutical, financial services, transportation and technology sectors. Sang Gon Kim and Ho Joon Moon advised LS Group in the transfer of LS Automotive business to a joint venture established by KKR.  As an example of outbound transaction work, Moon and Ki Wook Kang advised LG Hausys in its purchase of 50.1% of a Slovakian automobile parts manufacturer. Also of note is Hyeong Gun Lee, who is an expert in complex cross-border deals; Yongjoon Yoon is particularly adept in strategic deal structuring and negotiation; Daehoon Koo and Kyungchun Kim are ‘quickly developing an outstanding reputation’.

KL Partners is quickly developing a reputation as an ‘outstanding practice’ in the corporate and M&A space. Group head Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi is an all-round expert in M&A and private equity transactions; he advised KTB Private Equity in its sale of shares in Dongbu Express to Dongwon Group for $380m and assisted Kumho Holdings in the re-acquisition of Kumho Buslines for $400m. John M. Kim regularly advises foreign corporations on M&A, joint ventures and corporate transactions; he recently acted for NBC Sports in its broadcast of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Shin & Kim's ‘deep industry knowledge’ help it deliver the best services to its client’. Key figures Tong-Gun Lee and Myong-Hyon Ryu advised CJ Group in the sale of its 100% stake in CJ HealthCare, one of Korea’s largest pharmaceutical M&As valued at $1.2bn. The team also assisted Novelis Korea’s joint venture agreement with Kobe Steel. Also of note, Jae Young Chang specialises in transactions within the manufacturing sector, while Joon Hyug Chung focuses on private equity transactions. Also recommended are Byung Tae Kim and Chang-Hyun Song. Associate Chaewon Kang has ‘lots of potential to become a great partner’.

Headed by Hee Woong Yoon, Yulchon’s M&A practice attracts clients with its ‘high-end service at reasonable billings’, ‘deeply knowledgeable counsel’ and seamless ‘cross-departmental coordination’. Key partner Jae Hyun Park advised Asia Cement in acquiring a 100% stake in HallaCement from Baring Private Equity Asia and working alongside Hong Kim, assisted STIC Investments on its purchase of a 70% stake in Daekyung O&T. Senior foreign counsel Anthony Choi stands out for his ‘strong legal knowledge and ability to provide commercial and strategic advise’; he and senior foreign counsel Seungyul Shawn Yum aided Lotte Confectionery in its acquisition of HavmorIce Cream, an ice cream manufacturer in India. Other key contacts include Jin Kook Lee and Tehyok Daniel Yi. Yong Yun, Woo Jin Ahn, and Seok Jun Park left the practice.

Jipyong’s ‘dynamic and efficient’ practice ‘always deliver beyond expectation’, and is regularly involved in significant corporate mandates and cross-border transactions. Practice head Cheol Jeong is praised for his ‘deep understanding’ and ‘ability to properly point out things overlooked by the client’; he advised Naver in its subscription of 5% of new redeemable convertible preferred shares in Woowa Brothers, a leading food delivery company in Korea. Also of note is Hee-Suk Chai, an all-round expert in private equity funds. Min Shin, Hye Jung Ryu and Tae Hyun Lee are also recommended for M&As and corporate mandates.

Yoon & Yang LLC's practice ‘always come up with the fast and effective solutions to the complicated legal issues’ and impress with its ‘good negotiation skills and high level of industry knowledge’. Soongki Yi co-heads the group alongside Sung-Jin Kim, whose strengths ‘lie on his creative approach to corporate matters’; he is able to provide sound advice based on ‘technical knowledge and insight on the markets’. Kim recently assisted CHA Healthcare with an investment of $98m from Mirae Asset. Hwang Lim Jang is also recommended for corporate and capital finance related matters.

DR & AJU LLC team impresses clients with its ‘excellent industry knowledge and extremely quick responses’. In recent highlights for the group, Jong Won Lee assisted Keangnam Enterprises with the sale of its interest in Suwan Energy power plant to Samick Music. The ‘very knowledgeable' Seung Hyo (Sam) Baek is recommended for transactions within the education sector; he advised New York-based MediaMath in acquiring a 25% interest in Korean firm Wishmedia, and aided a Hong Kong investment company in acquiring an interest in a Korean online language training platform.

Lee International IP & Law Group's Ghil-Won Jo assisted a Korean conglomerate on the creation of new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines, advised on a merger between two listed Korean companies, and acted for a creditor in a bankruptcy claim. Also of note, senior foreign attorney Stephan Sung-Eun Kim advised on the acquisition of business assets of a domestic semiconductor manufacturing company.

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Dinner with GC -
Korea 2018

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    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.

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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
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  • Russian Court’s Judgment Recognized for Enforcement in Korea

    Recently, based on the premise that requirements for “mutual guarantee” or “reciprocity” in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments can be allowed between Russia and Korea, a District Court of Korea rendered its decision which allowed a judgment concluded by a Russian court to be enforceable in Korea (see Changwon District Court, Decision 2018Gahap51099 held on January 17, 2019).
  • Korean National Assembly Passes “Blind Hiring” Bill to Reform Hiring Culture

    Recently, the National Assembly of Korea passed legislative amendments to the Fair Recruitment Procedure Act (“FRPA ”) as part of the reform efforts to address the country’s recruitment culture. The latest amendment – dubbed the “blind hiring” bill – expands the FRPA to prohibit any type of recruitment irregularities (e.g., improper solicitation, coercion, pressure) and, more importantly, bars employers from asking jobseekers to provide any information unrelated to the position and the applicant’s merit. The amended FRPA will go into effect starting July 17, 2019.
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  • Korean Supreme Court Confirms Licensee’s Standing to Challenge Patent Validity

    On February 21, 2019, the Supreme Court of Korea issued an en banc decision overruling its prior precedents on the issue of whether a licensee who is continuing to make royalty payments under an existing license agreement nevertheless has standing to challenge the validity of the licensed patent. In short, the Korean Supreme Court held that absent special circumstance, a patent licensee is an “interested party” eligible for challenging the validity of a licensed patent, despite the lack of any threat or potential threat posed by the patent holder against the licensee’s right to use the patented invention. (Supreme Court En Banc Decision No. 2017Hu2819).
  • Amendments to the KFTC Merger Review Guidelines

    The Korea Fair Trade Commission (the “KFTC ”) recently amended its Guidelines for Merger Review (the ”Guidelines ”), which took effect from February 27, 2019. The Guidelines now provide for particular issues relating to “innovation markets” and “big data” that will be considered during the KFTC’s review of mergers within R&D-intensive (i.e. innovative) industries.

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