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  1. Dispute resolution: local firms
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Bae, Kim & Lee LLC’s practice has expertise in a diverse range of areas such as corporate governance and hostile M&A, family litigation and real estate and project finance litigation. The team is highly active in cross-border contentious mandates arising from M&A and IPOs; for example Kitae Hong and cross-border disputes specialist Tony Dongwook Kang are representing Mirae Asset Daewoo in its claim against a Chinese company and EY Korea following a fraudulent IPO. Hong also handles environmental work and is defending Naver in the Supreme Court in a class action arising from the company’s construction of a glass building allegedly obstructing views and causing damage through sunlight reflection. In the corruption space, Jung Il Moon and Sangkyun Jang successfully defended MunHwa Broadcasting and its executive directors in a defamation case imputing abuse of power by the Mayor of Seoul. The department is led by Byoung Ha Jeon, Kap-You Kim and construction specialist Hyungsuk Lee.

Kim & Chang is regularly instructed on large-scale domestic litigation and class action suits and in one standout matter practice co-head Sang Ho Han and Hye Kwang Lee are defending Philip Morris Korea in a KRW53.7bn claim brought by the National Health Insurance Service relating to cancer allegedly caused by tobacco products. The team also handles cross-border work and recently achieved a number of favourable results for Korean clients: practice co-head Jin Yeong Chung successfully represented NH Investment & Securities in French appellate court proceedings seeking nullification of a mortgage established under French laws; and Ji Yol Son, Si-gooy Lim and You Jin Kim successfully defended the CEO of LG Electronics and two other executive officers in the Supreme Court, against charges of causing intentional damage to a competitor’s washing machines at a tradeshow. Finance litigation is another area of strength and Sang Keun Kim, Sun Seong Park and Cheolhee Park are acting for various commercial banks in claims for insurance proceeds against K-Sure, following an export financing fraud case involving Moneual.

Lee & Ko further developed its substantial offering with a number of senior hires, including former standing commissioner on the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Young Hye Kim. The practice is often involved in landmark cases and in one example Byeong Jun Son led a team that secured a victory in the Supreme Court for Lotte in a decision concerning the application of the VAT rules on mileage purchases. In another significant result, Seon Tae Kim, Jin Wook Yang, Heon Myung Jeong and Myung Jong Kim succeeded in defending a claim brought by landowners against Jeju Province and its project operator, JDC, seeking cancellation of an expropriation order allowing land to be used as an amusement park. Won Seok Ko who heads the practice, focuses on finance, general corporate and administrative litigation, and was part of a team that successfully defended K-Sure in a claim brought by the Industrial Bank of Korea for the collection of insurance payments arising from an export finance fraud. Other key contacts are TMT specialist Pyoung Keun Song and Chan Ik Jang, who has charge of the construction and real estate litigation team.

Shin & Kim’s recent strengthening of its criminal disputes practice group helped it to secure a leading role pertaining to the recent presidential impeachment. The practice also reaped the benefits of its developed TMT offering with a number of significant instructions in that sector: in one example Yong-Ho Moon, Sang-Hyeok Im and Woo-Gyun Kim successfully acted for the Seoul Broadcasting System in its claim against certain cable television system operators for retransmitting terrestrial broadcasting channels to their subscribers without licenses or authorisation. In the real estate space, construction specialist Jae-Yun Yun, Jin-Ho Jeong and Seung Soo Lee successfully represented Incheon Transit in a payment and defects claim relating to the installation and operation of monorails on an island of Incheon. Yun was also active in a substantial piece of corporate litigation; together with Jong-Han Oh and Sookmi Lee, he successfully defended Hyundai Elevator against a KRW787bn claim brought by Schindler Group, relating to Hyundai Elevator’s execution of derivative contracts. Yong Dam Kim, Dong-Seong Myung and Sinseob Kang are the other main contacts.

At Yulchon, the ‘high quality of service tends to be reinforced by the reasonable level of fees’, and its litigation expertise extends well beyond the firm’s history of excellence in areas such as tax and antitrust. Highlights included practice co-head Yong Sup Yoon and Hyun Chul Byun defending Hyundai Motor Company in a class action filed by the consumers of one of its automobile models, alleging misrepresentation over actual gas mileage statistics provided by the company; and Nung Hwan Kim, Yong Sup Yoon, Hai Sung Park and Dong Ryul Choi representing Hanwha Chemical in a precedent-setting Supreme Court case regarding the legal characteristics of performance bonds and their forfeitures in mergers and acquisitions of large corporations. The team also handles white-collar criminal defence, and work in this space includes Choi and Eun-Jae Park being part of a team that successfully defended the chairman of Hanjin Group and the directors of Korean Air against charges of bribery. Hong Kun Yun, Hai Sung Park and Yoon are the practice co-heads.

Yoon & Yang LLC’s strength in the disputes field was further enhanced by the hires of Keon Joo Cho from the Seoul Eastern District Court and Youbum Kim from the Seoul High Court. The practice enjoys a particularly strong reputation for white-collar criminal defence, and is defending a large number of CEOs subject to criminal prosecution for embezzlement, bribery and breach of trust. Managing partner Young Kon Cho is a key figure for criminal defence work. In the civil litigation sphere, Seung Ryong Yoo, Myung Soo Lee and Sue Yeon Woo are representing KEB Hana Bank in the Supreme Court in a claim concerning the guarantee of trade receivables that were found to be fake. Other highlights for Yoo include defending General Electric, alongside Kwon Hoe Kim and Hae-Wang Jeong, against a product liability claim arising from failed power plant generators. Duk Mo Chung and Dong Eon Cha head the team. Sam-Sung Yang is now of counsel.

Jipyong’s team has recent expertise in the real estate sector, with Won Jeong handling cases for public and private sector clients. Highlights included Jeong representing Hyundai Engineering & Construction in a claim for payment of overdue interest on the construction price pertaining to the Yongin Seongbok Hillstate project. The team was also instructed on various employment and finance matters, including Seong-Jin Bae defending Mirae Asset Daewoo in a damages compensation action relating to losses arising from a vessel fund. In the white-collar space, Hong-Jae Lee and Sung-Kook Kang successfully defended numerous senior executives accused of corruption, including securing the acquittal of the former CEO of Korea National Oil. Sung-Taek Lim heads the practice.

KL Partners’ ‘excellent mix of experienced Korean attorneys and foreign attorneys with international experience’ makes the firm a good choice for cross-border disputes and the practice represents domestic and foreign clients. Besides handling a number of contentious matters arising from failed distribution arrangements, the team was also instructed on several high-profile criminal matters. Key lawyers include Beomsu Kim, who has ‘a good reputation in the market and before the court’, ‘very smart and strategic’ foreign attorney John Kim, and Ki Seong Park, who joined from Shin & Kim.

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