Regulatory: compliance and investigations: local firms in South Korea

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC is home to extensive experience in representing companies and individuals in criminal trials, international investigations and administrative proceedings. Specific expertise includes negotiations with tax authorities, money laundering issues, embezzlement, anti-corruption and auditing regulations. Sangchul Lee is an expert on IP property rights, fair trade issues, environmental issues and trade secret matters. He heads the practice which possesses broad industry expertise include financial services, construction, energy, media, real estate, technology, telecommunications and retail. In a recent highlight, the team successfully represented the former chairman of KT Corporation in high-profile charges of embezzlement and violation of one’s duty.  Hwan Gyun Roh departed.

Practice head(s):

Sangchul Lee;

Other key lawyers:

Jung Ho Park; Sangchul Lee; Kyung Hoon Lee;

Key clients

Suk-chae LEE (Ex-chairman of KT)

Sang-Jin PARK (former president at Samsung Electronics)

Young-ja SHIN (former chief director of Lotte Foundation)

JTBC and its employees

Byungjoo MIN (Psychological Operations Group head of National Intelligence Service)

An employee of the Finance Team of Pine Resort

Employees of Samyang Composite Technology

STX Offshore & Shipbuilding

SK Hynix


Work highlights

  • Represented chief director of Lotte Samdong Welfare Foundation Youngja Shin (the “defendant”), the eldest daughter of the founder of Lotte Group. BKL’s Tax Team and Corporate Litigation Team represented the defendant in this case who was charged for tax evasion and breach of duty.
  • Obtained an acquittal on behalf of the CEO of Samyang Composite Technology who was charged with having deceived the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) by filling out false information in the tender documents.
  • Successfully represented LG NSYS in a case and obtained an acquittal in a case of fraud transactions and fake tax invoice in the process of the client purchasing goods from suppliers and selling them to purchasers.  
  • Represented and defended the SsangYong Cement against prosecution and successfully obtained non-prosecution disposition.
  • Acting on a matter where the three major South Korean broadcasters, KBS, MBC, and SBS, accused the client, fourth-largest broadcasting station in the nation, JTBC, of illegally using exit poll data that KBS,

Kim & Chang

According to one client, Kim & Chang's corporate investigations & white collar defence practice group is 'stronger than other law firms with regard to the seamless collaboration between its Korean and foreign attorneys'. The department is split into two subgroups, one focusing on domestic companies and the other on foreign companies, ensuring the firm can provide a truly bespoke service. Clients from a broad range of sectors regularly instruct the firm, including those from particularly niche or highly regulated areas such as financial services, insurance, aviation and defence. Michael Yu is an expert in the latter sector. The practice was recently marked by a large influx of mandates from major players in the automotive industry, especially on matters concerning emissions or homologation. Kook Hyun Yoo is team head and Ho-Keun Ryu is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Kook Hyun Yoo

Other key lawyers:

Ho-Keun Ryu


Very professional in terms of legal knowledge at both the local and international level; experienced in forensic investigations with strong interviewing skills‘.

Han Cheol Kang is a very professional Korean lawyer with strengths in pharmaceutical compliance and investigation‘.

Michael Yu is a very mature foreign attorney who specialises in corporate investigation and handling international affairs; he is particular favorite for our general counsel‘.

Key clients

Audi Volkswagen Korea

Work highlights

  • Criminal litigation defence of Audi Volkswagen Korea.

Lee & Ko

Praised as ‘one of the top firms in Korea for government investigations’, the team at Lee & Ko also handles regulatory and compliance matters in the competition, financial regulation, tax, employment, environment and automobile sectors, among others. With the support of an in-house digital forensics team, the department is split between white-collar crime, compliance and internal investigation practices which are headed by Chang-Hee Suh and Kyunghoon Lee. A standout name to note is Tae Yop Lee who is a market leader for corporate crime liability, foreign exchange and trade-related breaches. He recently formed a team representing Hanjin Group and Koren Air in charges which included criminal breach of fiduciary duty, self-dealing transactions and embezzlement.

Practice head(s):

Kyunghoon Lee; Chang-Hee Suh;

Other key lawyers:

Tae Yop Lee; Yong-Seok Park; Tae-Ki Ghil; Tae-Yop Lee; Taek-Rim Oh;


‘Kyunghoon Lee’s team is very professional and kind.’

‘Kyungoon Lee is very professional and kind.’

‘Lee & Ko is one of the top firms in Korea for government investigations whether in Korea or cross-border.’

‘Kyunghoon Lee and Taek-Rim Oh are both bilingual attorneys who can manage complex issues that arise in these investigations.  They are familiar with working with both Korean and U.S. companies which is a key core competency in this area.’

Key clients

Hanjin Group (Korean Air)

SK Chemicals

Incublock Co., Ltd.

Booyoung Group

Daehan Oil Pipeline Corp.

Samsung Display

BonIF Co., Ltd.

Ferrotec Advanced Materials

Korea Corporation

Doowon Corporation


Work highlights

  • Represented SK Chemicals against criminal allegations and prosecutorial investigations of purported fraudulent and deceptive advertising regarding the harmful ingredient in the Humidifier Mate.
  • Represented Incublock Co against criminal allegations and associated prosecutorial investigation of purported unlawful practices including fraud and exchange data manipulation pertaining to crypto currency.
  • Represented Booyoung Group against criminal allegations and associated prosecutorial investigation of purported tax evasion and other charges including embezzlement, violations of the Rental Housing Act, loan fraud and criminal breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Represented Samsung Display for misappropriation of its trade secret against Toptec.
  • Represented BonIF Co against criminal allegations of criminal breach of fiduciary duty and embezzlement.

Shin & Kim

At Shin & Kim, core strengths include criminal cases with defence, taxation, medical and pharmaceutical, labour, personal information protection, construction, finance, real estate, fair trade and anticorruption elements. Equally strong acting for domestic and foreign clients, the department is led by Hong Il Kim. Its legal expertise is complemented by the firm having specialist teams of accountants, customs consultants and patent attorneys. Seong-Jin Choi is knowledgeable about digital forensics, high-tech and financial crimes, money laundering and IP property rights.

Practice head(s):

Hong Il Kim;

Other key lawyers:

Dong-Shin Yeom; Doosik Lee; Yong-Sung Lee; Seong-Jin Choi;

Yoon & Yang LLC

Yoon & Yang LLC splits its regulatory and compliance offering between dedicated corporate advisory, banking and finance, project and energy, healthcare and criminal defence teams. Matters in the tax, technology, media and technology sectors are also cornerstones of the practice which possesses a proven track record of representing both domestic and international clients. The highly experienced Seung Ryong Yoo is particularly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Sang-Hoo Han; Soonghee Lee; Jiyul Yoo; Soongki Yi; Ohsung Kwon;

Work highlights

  • Guam invited client KEPCO for its Power Generator Project (Dededo Project) on BOT basis for 25 years.  The team is providing KEPCO with legal advices on all aspects of the project.
  • Advising Erbe Medical Korea on the transfer of product approvals of pharmaceuticals.
  • Provided tax advice to BTC Korea dot com Co., Ltd. and successfully supported the company’s tax investigation.
  • Provided tax advice to Avellino Inc. and successfully supported the company’s tax investigation.
  • Provided tax advice to Shinhan Bank and prepared reporting standards for the exchange of regular financial information between the Korean National Tax Service (NTS) and foreign tax authorities.


Yulchon’s team is well-versed in regulatory compliance and investigation matters in industries such as defence, energy, construction, airline, biotechnology, retail, education and pub. In addition, the group has recently expanded its expertise to encompass tax, antitrust, finance, labour, international investigation and healthcare-related crimes. Dong Ryul Choi and Il Bong Moon jointly head the practice. Yoon Soo Lim departed the firm.

Practice head(s):

Il Bong Moon; Dong Ryul Choi;

Other key lawyers:

Eun Jae Park; Kyung Soo Kim; Hak Seok Kim;

Key clients

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd.

Booyoung Housing Co., Ltd.

Dong-A Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

GS E&C Corp.

KEB Hana Bank

Dayou Winia Co., Ltd.

Hanwha Aerospace Co., Ltd.

Seoul Semiconductor Co.,Ltd.

Posco E&C Co.,Ltd.

Lotte Shopping Co.,Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Representing Jong Seung Won, a former Vice President of Finance of Korean Air, in a KRW 19.6 billion breach of trust case involving an alleged violation of the Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Economic Crimes with respect to the receipt of certain brokerage fees by supply agents.
  • Defending the chairman of Booyoung Group on a total of 18 charges, including embezzlement or conspiracy to embezzle and losses to the company caused by breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Defended Chairman Jeong Seok Kang of Dong-A Socio Holdings against charges of conspiracy to violate the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes (embezzlement), tax violations, occupational embezzlement relating to payment of the attorney’s fees for employees, and violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act.
  • Represented Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd. (“Seoul Semiconductor”), a Korean LED semiconductor manufacturer, in a procedure to obtain the issuance of arrest warrants against (i) three former employees (the “Defendants”) who had allegedly divulged the company’s trade secrets and industrial technology, and against (ii) Everlight, a Taiwanese competitor at which the Defendants were employed, and to forward this case to the prosecutor’s office for indictment.
  • Represented the president of KEB Hana Bank in investigation procedures involving alleged  “recruitment corruption,” and is currently representing the president in related criminal litigation proceedings (in joint representation with Kim&Chang and Byung Hoon Lee of Law Space Pyulchim).