Dispute resolution: local firms in South Korea
Bae, Kim & Lee LLC's high-calibre team includes practitioners with experience of serving as judges, notably Wu Cheol Song, Tony Dongwook Kang, Soon Ik Kwon and Kitae Hong. In addition to being active in all aspects of general commercial litigation, the group excels in more specialised areas, such as white-collar crime, hostile takeovers and defence, product liability, antitrust and intellectual property. Jung Myun Oh has over 20 years of construction and real estate experience. Recent highlights included Kang, Jeong Rai Cho and Yongman Bae successfully representing the Export-Import Bank of Korea and ten other parties at the Supreme Court in a landmark circa KRW1bn damages action brought by Kookmin Bank in connection with the workout of Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Another highlight involved Kwon and Jungno Yoon advising the Export-Import Bank of Korea on litigation brought by JC Com over losses it allegedly sustained due to the shutdown of the Gaesung Industrial Complex in 2013 as a consequence of deteriorating relations between North and South Korea. Bae, Myung Eun Oh, Taejoon Kook and Soyoung Lee made partner in January 2019.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm has the absolute top team for dispute resolution in South Korea. It is very reputed and everybody knows them. Having them on your side gives you immediate credibility‘
‘Tony Dongwook Kang stands out for his pragmatism, responsiveness and communication skills‘
‘Tony Dongwook Kang has broad experience and an impressive track record, allowing him to advise clients on domestic and cross-border litigation‘
- The firm represented Ksure, which provided insurance based on an export insurance policy, in a case concerning forged export transactions against Korean banks
- The firm acted for KEPCO E&C as one of the co-defendants in a damages action brought by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in connection with allegedly illegal acts committed during a power plant component supply and approval process, which led to the suspension of the operation of a power plant.
- The firm represented KT at the Supreme Court as the defendant in group claims arising from the hacking of its N-Step system, which led to a massive data breach.
- The firm is acting for Korail in a longrunning case connected with the suspension of the $25bn Yongsan International Business District Project, which is South Korea’s main public-private partnership project.
- The firm defended Posco Engineering & Construction as the project undertaker in proceedings connected with the collapse of an urban development project in Hwaseong, a city in Gyeonggi Province.
Kim & Chang has a standout reputation acting for clients in reputationally-sensitive cases of the utmost complexity and significance. In addition to fielding a first-rate team of experienced litigators, the firm is able to leverage the expertise of patent attorneys, accountants and industry experts in complex matters. The team's strengths span multiple areas, including securities litigation, white-collar/regulatory investigations, M&A-related disputes, insurance and competition cases. Jay J. Kim, Sang Yoon Lee, Sung Jin Kim and CY Chooyoun Kim are defending a company against product liability claims brought by multiple plaintiffs over injuries sustained as a result of using humidifier sanitisers. The team has also assisted with related criminal proceedings and government investigations connected with the matter. Sang Ho Han, Hye Kwang Lee, Sungwook Kim and Chul-Won Lee are representing Philip Morris Korea in a longrunning lawsuit brought by the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS). NHIS first brought the damages against tobacco manufacturers in 2014 in relation to policyholders being diagnosed with lung cancer and laryngeal cancer. Sun Seong Park leads the firm's banking litigation team. Jin Yeong Chung and Chang Beom Ryu are among many other names to note.
Sang Ho Han; Jin Yeong Chung
Other key lawyers:
‘The team always secures successful outcomes in complex disputes. It has a practical strategy to address key issues and is proactive in providing support in-house counsel‘
Philip Morris Korea
Deutsche Bank AG
The Boeing Company
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- The firm acted for a joint venture company established by Lone Star Fund at the Supreme Court in relation to the enforcement of an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration award. The matter concerned a dispute between the client and shareholder Korea Resolution & Collection Corporation.
- The firm successfully represented Novartis in an administrative action concerning the patent term extension related to the Exelon® Patch for treating dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- The firm acted for Viacom International Hungary in a landmark case concerning the beneficial ownership of royalties.
Lee & Ko's depth of manpower underpins its ability to assist clients with large, high-profile and high-stakes litigation, with it housing practitioners active in 40 different practice groups. In addition to being adept in domestic matters, a sizeable portion its team's workload has a cross-border dimension, notably in areas such as white-collar crime, shipping and insurance. A group led by Pyoung Keun Song and Jongsoo (Jay) Yoon recently represented the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) in court proceedings issued by Facebook Ireland Ltd; the case arose from the KCC's imposition of fines because Facebook changed a connection path, which slowed down the speed of users attempting to access Facebook through SK Broadband and LG Uplus. In 2018, the firm acted for Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd in a lawsuit filed by retired pilots seeking a judgment that no debt was due for loans provided by the airline to finance participation in flight training courses. Won Seok Ko heads up the team, which includes administrative litigation head Seon Tae Kim and Chan Ik Jang, who leads on construction and real estate litigation. Seong Won Chang, Yang Suk Han, Jeong Kyoo Han and Sang Yong Ra each have over 20 years of experience serving as judges. Jae Heon Park is another key figure.
Won Seok Ko
Other key lawyers:
Hyundai Heavy Industries
LG Chem Ltd
Korea Development Bank
Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd
Booyoung Group Co., Ltd
Bristol Myers Squibb
- The firm represented New Airport Hiway Co., Ltd in a case seeking the cancellation of a corporate tax levy in relation to a private investment project.
- The firm acted for Kangwon Land Co., Ltd in a lawsuit filed by 3,000 Kangwon Land labour union members and retirees over the minimum wage.
- The firm is representing Huawei, MediaTek and Samsung Electronics as third-party interveners in the KFTC investigation and Qualcomm’s appeal of the KFTC’s sanctions for abuse of dominance in its SEP licensing practices for mobile communications technology.
- The firm defended Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and its project operator Jeju Free International City Development Centre against a claim brought by landowners over the cancellation of an expropriation order in relation to the building of the Jeju Myths and History Theme Park
- The firm represented Saengbo Real Estate Trust Co. in a lawsuit concerning a trust company’s violation of the duty of care in management-type land trusts.
Shin & Kim's litigation department has an excellent record assisting clients with their most significant 'bet the company' disputes. It has key specialisms in areas such as intellectual property, product liability, capital markets, labour and bankruptcy, and administrative and tax law. In 2018, Woong Cho and Sookmi Lee were the lead advisers to Korea Development Bank on its application for an injunction prohibiting the spin-off of automobile manufacturer Korea GM Company; this matter arose from parent company GM Group attempting to spin-off Korea GM into production and technology subsidiaries without consulting with the client. Jin-Jo Jeong and Se Kil Park are defending Samsung Securities in a damages action brought by eight investors over a Samsung employee issuing 2.8 billion “ghost shares” in error. Despite the company issuing a warning, circa five million shares were sold by 16 Samsung Securities' employees, which caused financial losses to the investors. Tae Hun Kim and Jong Woo Lee, who formerly served as presiding judges at the Seoul Central District Court, are recent additions to the team. Another key arrival is Jin Tae Kim, who served as the former Public Prosecutor General. Jeong Seok Kang and Kyoung Sik Lee also have significant experience as prosecutors. Seung Soo Lee is another key figure in the team, which is jointly led by Yong Dam Kim, Jae Yun Yun, Sinseob Kang and Hong Il Kim. Jong-Han Oh and Ghyo-Sun Park are also recommended.
Yong Dam Kim; Jae Yun Yun; Sinseob Kang; Hong Il Kim
Other key lawyers:
Mirae Asset Group
KT & G Corporation
Hyundai Elevator Group
Hyundai Engineering & Construction
IMM Private Equity
- The firm is acting for Hanwha Investment & Securities Co., Ltd, which bought and sold bonds guaranteed by China National Energy Chemical Group (CERCG), in court litigation arising from CERCG’s failure to meet a bond payment.
- The firm is defending Uijeongbu City in the KRW200bn Uijeongbu Light Rail Project payment termination case.
- The firm acted for Wemade Entertainment and spin-off company Chuanqi IP in a copyright dispute with Actoz Soft, an affiliated company of a Chinese game developer.
- The firm acted for Hyundai Elevator/Hyundai Group in a shareholder derivative action brought by Schindler Group (the second largest shareholder of Hyundai Elevator).
- The firm is defending eTEC E&C in a damages action arising from the collapse of the Yeosu coal silo storage facilities.
At Yulchon, the dispute resolution practice is jointly led by Il Bong Moon and Dong Ryul Choi. The firm has a strong track record of handling complex and high-value cases for clients in sectors such as chemicals, financial services, telecoms and energy, among many others. Reflective of its high-end work, Choi, Sung Bom Park, Jeong Yeol Choe and Kyoung Yeong Kim are representing Qualcomm at the Seoul High Court in an appeal of the KFTC's decision to impose a fine for an alleged abuse of a dominant position by the client in mobile communication technologies. Also notable is that Moon is working with Tae Jin Cha and Jin Yong Heo to defend NH Investment & Securities Co., Ltd against a lawsuit brought by Hyosung Corporation in connection with the client's alleged failure to finance and manage a Romanian solar photovoltaic power station construction project. Sang Hyeon Gwack's varied practice includes antitrust, tax and real estate/construction litigation. Also experienced in complex disputes are individuals such as Dong Soo Han, Yong Pyo Yeom and Ju Bong Park.
Il Bong Moon; Dong Ryul Choi
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd
Mirae Asset Daewoo Co., Ltd
Hyundai Motor Company
KB Kookmin Bank
Samsung Heavy Industries Co., Ltd
Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd
- The firm successfully assisted KORAIL with obtaining a complete victory at the court of first instance and appellate court in litigation concerning the restoration of land ownership after the Yongsan International Business District Development Project was scrapped.
- The firm successfully obtained a final judgment cancelling a gift tax assessment exceeding KRW 137.7 billion that was imposed on the children of the former largest shareholder of Lotte Hi-Mart Co., Ltd, Korea’s top electric appliances retailer, during the course of its takeover of Hi-Mart.
- The firm successfully represented Korean shoe manufacturer Kumkang in a lawsuit filed by Japanese shoe company Kabushiki Kaisha Regal Corporation (Regal Corporation). At the appellate trial, as well as the first instance, the firm had successfully obtained a dismissal of all claims filed by Regal Corporation, which claimed damages and prohibition of the use of trademark “REGAL”—the historical signature brand of Kumkang’s men’s shoes— asserting that using that trademark is a practice of unfair competition.
- The firm is representing Hyundai Motor Securities in litigation brought by Yuanta and Shinyoung over the sale of asset-backed commercial paper (“ABCP”). Yulchon is also representing Hyundai Motor Securities in a similar lawsuit against Busan Bank.
- The firm is defending S-1 Corporation against a damages action filed by Samsung SDS over financial loss sustained by Samsung following a fire at its Gwacheon Internet Data Centre building, which housed and operated server computers of major Samsung Group affiliates including Samsung Card, Samsung Life Insurance, and Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance, and major Korean telecommunications service providers like KT and LG Uplus.
Yoon & Yang LLC has a strong profile among domestic and foreign clients in white-collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, with cases involving issues such as embezzlement and money laundering, among others. Its highly regarded team comprises of more than 70 former judges, as well as a notable bench of former public prosecutors, Supreme Court justices and Prosecutors General. The group was strengthened by the recent arrivals of experienced prosecutors Sung Wook Cho and Young Woon Choi from Daejeon High Prosecutors’ Office and Cho Sung Wook Law Office respectively. In another development, the firm hired Donghoon Shin, who is a former judge of the Seoul Eastern District Court. Partners Young Min Seo and Sun Bong Lee, and senior foreign attorney Edward Dhong (who was formerly IBM's head of legal investigations for the Asia-Pacific region), are also recent additions to the group. The firm also has strong capabilities in general commercial litigation, as is illustrated by the fact that Seog-Jong Han, Yong Taek Kim and others are defending Korea Railroad Corporation in litigation arising from the the termination of the Yongsan International Business District Project; the case is pending before the Supreme Court. The team is jointly led by Seung Ryong Yoo, Seung Nam Yoo and Youbum Kim. Hee Sik Yoon, Keon Joo Cho and Ki Hwan Ahn also feature in the firm's most significant matters.
Seung Ryong Yoo; Seung Nam Yoo; Youbum Kim; Ohsung Kwon
Other key lawyers:
‘I think that Yoon & Yang has the strongest team in the litigation and arbitration in Korea. My overall impression is that the firm has the high-quality expertise in every aspect of the litigations in Korea and they are well acquainted with the Korean courts which gave us an accurate expectation on the result of the litigations. In addition, the team is comprised of experienced senior partners, handful of former judges and insightful junior partners. I am very much satisfied with Yoon & Yang’s teamwork and the outcome was positive until now.’
‘Mr. Lee successfully organizes his team of experienced and passionate attorneys in resolving the case.’
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)
Kumho Petro Chemical Co., Ltd.
Otis Elevator Company
Hyundai Motor Company
Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)
Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL)
Korea Land & Housing Corporation
GS E&R Corp.
GE Healthcare Korea
Byung-woo Bae, representative director of Osang Healthcare Co., Ltd (Formerly known as Infopia Co., Ltd.)
Jae Soo Lee, mayor of Chuncheon City
Hoon-hee Kwak, the anti-cancer drug business department CEO of Novartis Korea Limited
Choong-ki Min, former representative director of Roof Funding
Do Joon Park, former director of Deutsche Securities Korea Co., Ltd.; Deutsche Securities Korea Co., Ltd.
- The firm is acting for Korea Land & Housing Corporation as the defendant in a construction dispute with HDC Hyundai Development Company; the case is currently pending before the Seoul High Court.
- The firm acted for GS E&R in a KRW930m contractual dispute with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
- The firm successfully defended GE Healthcare Korea against a claim for damages brought by its agents, who had argued that the client unfairly rejected the renewal of their agency agreements.
- The firm is acting for Chuncheon City mayor Jae Soo Lee, who has been prosecuted for allegedly violating a prohibition on house-to-house canvassing in order to win an election under the Election Act.
- The firm is defending the former representative director of Roof Funding, Co., Ltd. (a leading P2P company), who has been charged with fraud.
Jipyong's team has extensive expertise in the full range of corporate (including M&A) disputes, unfair competition litigation, media and technology disputes, intellectual property cases and contentious issues arising from project finance transactions, among other matters. Its team has a strong track record in headline and landmark cases, as was illustrated in 2018 when managing partner Kong Hyun Lee, Yong Wan Cho, Gee Hong Kim, Seongcheol Park and associate Bo Young Park represented victims of human rights abuse by Korean state powers in a successful constitutional challenge of the statute of limitations for compensation claims. Also notable is that Kim recently acted for the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) at the Supreme Court in Qualcomm's challenge of the KFTC's decision to fine Qualcomm for an abuse of market dominance in the CDMA2000-standard technologies market. Practice head Sung Taek Lim has experience of a wide range of contentious matters, including those connected with construction, intellectual property and antitrust. Seong Jin Bae is an expert in bankruptcy and restructuring cases, as well as insurance and securities disputes. Won Jeong is recommended for contentious matters related to the telecoms sector.
Sung Taek Lim;
Other key lawyers:
Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation
Developer of a housing project
Global sportswear company
NH Investment & Securities Co., Ltd
Kyongnam Bank Co., Ltd
Maker/seller/rental service provider of electronic appliances
Hyundai Motor Company
Reno Eng Co., Ltd
Electronic parts manufacturer
Work-for-hire inventors previously employed by an e-payment certification service provider
Association for Sinbanpo District 4 Reconstruction Project
The Korea Fair Trade Commission
- The firm acted for the developer of a housing project at the Supreme Court in a damages claim against Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH Corp.) over the delayed supply of a housing site under a contract for purchase price of KRW137.5bn.
- The firm successfully defended a global sportswear company against a claim for payment of a retirement allowance brought by a former consigned seller of a department store upon termination of the employment contract.
- The firm successfully represented NH and Kyongnam Bank in a lawsuit challenging the distribution of proceeds from the auction of Island Castle Resort.
- The firm successfully defended Hyundai Motor against a damages action brought by BJC, a bioremediation company, which was based on allegations that Hyundai Motor had misappropriated information relating to its technology, created a similar technology based on microorganism analysis, and filed its own patent applications, after which it terminated its contract with BJC.
- The firm successfully represented Reno ENG at the Supreme Court in a case which clarified the test for determining what constitutes a substantial amendment in the context of patent applications.
KL Partners has a diverse litigation practice, which covers general commercial disputes, intellectual property matters and securities and finance litigation. The firm notably stands out representing Korean and foreign clients in cross-border litigation; Ki Seong Park and managing partner Beomsu Kim are representing Xangbo Global Markets Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) in a $26m lawsuit against MJB and Woori Bank where a Korean company had fraudulently diverted funds to its own account. In another matter, which is pending before the Supreme Court of Korea, Kim, Park and Eun Nyung (Ian) Lee are leading the advice to GEA Farm Technologies GmbH on a $35m lawsuit against Korean distributor Sesame W.S. Trading; the case concerns the wrongful termination of exclusive distribution rights granted by the client to Sesame W.S. Elsewhere, highly sensitive criminal cases/investigations are another bedrock of the firm's contentious work, and are a key area of growth. Dong-Seok (Johan) Oh, who is a recent hire from Kim & Chang, is the overall head of dispute resolution. Park is the chair of the litigation practice. Recent hires Seonho Kim and Young Suk Park, who joined from SEUM Law and venture capital firm Atinum Partners respectively, are also key names to note. Heedong Hwang has left to help establish Kim & Partners.
Beomsu Kim (managing partner); Dong-Seok (Johan) Oh (head of dispute resolution); Ki Seong Park (chair of litigation practice group)
Xangbo Global Markets
GEA Farm Technologies
Aequitas Investment Management Ltd
Seoul National University Hospital (“SNU Hospital”)
Orchestra Advisers Korea Ltd
Golden Bridge Investment & Securities Co., Ltd
Hyundai Heavy Industries
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering
Hyundai Engineering and Construction
Hyundai Engineering Corporation
Samsung Heavy Industries
Hanwha Engineering and Construction
Korean Export Import Bank
- The firm is representing Universal in a lawsuit against Studio Dragon, a production company. Universal co-owns the rights to a certain synopsis for a Korean drama. The client claims that the synopsis is being produced by a production company, Studio Dragon, without Universal’s authorisation.
- The firm acted for Aequitas in a $3.5m appeal case against securities broker KB Securities. The case arose from the client’s trading algorithm making a series of erroneous off-market option trades, which resulted in the execution of unintended trades in excess of $3.5m. Aequitas was sued by KB Securities for the resulting losses.
- The firm assisted Orchestra Advisers Korea with negotiating a multimillion dollar settlement with Seoul Vision in connection with a post-M&A dispute.
- The firm is acting for Dom Technology in a $30m case against Kumho T&L, which arose from the collapse of a a large-scale silo for storage of coal. The client had designed and constructed the silo for Kumho T&L.
- The firm is advising Cleanwrap on numerous cases, including a KRW6bn management rights dispute.
Lee International IP & Law Group
Lee International IP & Law Group's recent contentious work has spanned sectors such as construction, medical devices and automotive, among others. In addition to handling litigation in Korea, its team is particularly well-placed to assist Korean companies with court proceedings in the US and Canada; Kurt B. Gerstner, who has more than 36 years of experience as a trial lawyer in the US, has expertise in product liability and general commercial disputes, among other areas. Gerstner recently assisted Foresco (as the plaintiff) with obtaining a obtaining a court judgment in the US against a New York-based company for an outstanding business debt. Elsewhere, since its inception in 1961, the firm has had a key specialism in intellectual property litigation; Myung-Ho Song, who is a qualified patent attorney, is a name to note. Lance B. Lee, who is the head of the litigation and arbitration department, is sought out for advice on cross-border litigation and government investigations.