Regulatory: compliance and investigations: local firms in South Korea

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang continues to lead the way with one of the largest compliance and white-collar defence practices in the market. Kook Hyun Yoo continues to be one of Korea’s most respected criminal defence lawyers, with colleague, Myungsuk Sean Choi highly sought after for corporate investigations, often representing multinational companies. Sung Won Hong specialises in employment-related cases and health and safety cases. Former prosecutor, Ho Keun Ryu is a white-collar criminal defense expert on charges relating to embezzlement and corruption. Senior associate Miji Song also assists with internal investigations, criminal defense matters and compliance projects.

Practice head(s):

Kook Hyun Yoo

Other key lawyers:

Myungsuk Sean Choi; Sung Won Hong; Ho Keun Ryu; Miji Song


‘Kim & Chang is the pre-eminent legal practice. It has the largest resources and manpower across various departments, and excellent lawyers are highly experienced and well-connected across all fields. In terms of professional quality, it is the best law firm in Korea. Its compliance and investigations practice leads the way in Korea, it was the first on the market and continues to deliver excellent results.’

Kim & Chang’s compliance team led by Seung Ho Lee are highly skilled and knowledgeable, not only on the facts but also the actions of regulators and other such parties. They provided very good solutions based on their abundant case experience. The practice accurately understands what the client needs under the circumstances, and effectively mobilizes the firm’s resources and delivers timely support. ’

Key clients

Audi Volkswagen Korea, Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Defense in criminal investigation and subsequent litigation of Audi Volkswagen Korea in relation to diesel vehicles.

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko‘s internal investigation and white-collar crime team is led by seasoned industry experts, Kyunghoon Lee and Tae Yop Lee , who work alongside head of corporate compliance, Sedong Min and head of financial regulations, Seung Hoon Choi . The group have a deep bench of expertise handling complex cases involving fraud, trade secrets, criminal cartel offences and bribery, as well as regulatory compliance and investigations relating to the automotive, food and drink, pharmaceutical and consumer goods sectors, the latter of which is Dongho Ryu‘s speciality area. Senior associates Jung Han Nam and Jae Woo Jung utilise their previous experience in law enforcement to represent clients in corporate embezzlement, professional misconduct, electoral and issues involving foreign business entities. 

Practice head(s):

Kyunghoon Lee; Tae Yop Lee; Sedong Min

Other key lawyers:

Seunghoon Choi; Dongho Ryu; Jung Han Nam; Jae Woo Jung


‘Lee & Ko’s lawyers are excellent in two respects; they are highly experienced senior staff including prosecutors, judges and senior counsel, and have a deep bench of expertise successfully leading cases and helping clients in tricky investigations. They are able to respond and act accordingly through their own experience and offer practice solutions across multiple industries.’

‘Dongho Ryu has experience working as a prosecutor in Korea, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. I trust his opinion, his strategies and his representation.’

Key clients

Sampyo Cement, Co. Ltd.


Hyundai Engineering and Construction

Korea Marine Transport Co., Ltd.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea

Korbit Inc.

KleanNara Co., Ltd.

Mirae Asset Securities, Bookook Securities

Work highlights

  • Represented defendant, Sampyo Cement Co., Ltd., in an industrial accident case, in which two workers died one month apart in Sampyo Cement’s main plant.  It is the very first case subject to the newly enacted law, the SAPA.
  • Advised DUNAMU, which operates Upbit, Korea’s largest virtual asset exchange, on efficient business structure and relevant legal issues with respect to the opening of the first and second markets of NFTs through linkage with IP rights holders’ information.
  • Represented a number of shipping companies in a shipping association’s cartel case. This cartel case is exceptional because it raised the issue of whether the collaborative acts among the companies were permitted by laws.

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC‘s white-collar defence and investigations department combines multidisciplinary expertise across its financial regulatory, anti-money laundering, tax and competiton law, as well as broader litigation. Soo Bong Jung and practice head Jin Han Lee lead in various criminal cases involving corporate, finance, tax, corruption, health and safety and international criminal affairs. Sangchul Lee assists clients in response to investigation involving industrial safety, corruption, trade secrets and IP rights. Jinwook Song, Jun Ki Park are also leading defence counsel. Foreign attorney Jiyoung Sohn is experienced in fraud, embezzlement, bribery and sexual harassment cases.

Practice head(s):

Jin Han Lee

Other key lawyers:

Soo Bong Jung; Jun Ki Park; Sangchul Lee; Jiyoung Sohn


‘BKL quickly formed a team with members who had very strong and special skill sets in each area, which made myself very comfortable considering the situation that we faced with.’

‘Although every individual from BKL was exceptional, team leader, Jinwook Song managed the whole process brilliantly.  He coached and led us well during the process with JiYoung Sohn taking care of the negotiation with the other parties, which is probably the most time consuming and exhausting part of the process. She showed endless energy while also providing appropriate advice in each step. ’

Key clients

KEB Hana Bank, NH Investment & Securities, and other financial institutions

Work highlights

  • Advised KEB Hana Bank, NH Investment & Securities, and other financial institutions on responding to government sanctions.

Shin & Kim

Shin & Kim‘s robust practice has a long track record representing clients in white-collar defence trials and investigations relating to financial crimes, tax, trade secrets and employment law offences. It also stands out for its police investigation defence team, led by Jai Hoon Lee together with Kwang Min Kang and Joo Hyeong Kim. The practice is led by distinguished former chief prosecutor Keonjoo Lee, who takes on case of anti-corruption, public security, cybercrime, unfair competition and trade secrets. Seong-Jin Choi heads the international crime division of the practice

Practice head(s):

Keonjoo Lee

Other key lawyers:

Jai Hoon Lee; Kwang Min Kang; Joo Hyeong Kim; Seong-Jin Choi


Yulchon excels in investigations surrounding tax and antitrust law in Korea, with the team also experienced in defending executives in criminal investigations, acting in high-profile financial crime and industrial accident cases. It also continues to expand its police defence offering, in response to the recently expanded police investigative powers. Managing partner Dong Ryul Choi is experienced in economic crimes and regulatory enforcement, while Hak Seok Kim focuses represents public officials in financial crime and tax evasion investigations and trials. Beom Chin An and Jae Hyeok Choi also have a significant white-collar crime caseload. Seung Hyun Lee is praised for her ‘sound and indisputable expertise’. 

Practice head(s):

Dong Ryul Choi; Il Bong Moon; Yong Pyo Yeom

Other key lawyers:

Hak Seok Kim; Beom Chin An; Jae Hyeok Choi; Seung Hyun Lee


‘Yulchon’s criminal defence team comprises former public prosecutors and police officers. Based on their past investigative experience, they were able to swiftly and accurately identify the key elements of the case and establish adequate responses along with an overall game plan. They actively utilize their past network as a former prosecutor/police officer to communicate with prosecutors and investigators in charge of the case.’

‘Lee Seung Hyun is one of the few female attorneys with public prosecutor experience, and is among the top tier in the market. She is known for her sound and indisputable expertise and network within the criminal field especially during the investigative stage.’

‘Yulchon never fails in satisfying clients’ needs. It always tries to listen to its clients’ voices and doesn’t hesitate to provide relevant advice.’

‘Choi Dong Ryeol and Yoon Jung Keun are among the top figures in their industry and leading lawyers in Korea.’  

‘Yulchon team showed a very successful and cost-effective performance. The team promptly assigned a specialized lawyer for our case and handled the matter very well and professionally.’ 

Key clients

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd.

Hyundai Motor Company

GC Pharma

GS E&C Corp.

KEB Hana Bank


Hanwha Aerospace Co., Ltd.

Hanwha Chemical Co, Ltd.

Seoul Semiconductor Co., Ltd.

Posco E&C Co., Ltd.

Lotte Shopping Co., Ltd.

LG Chem

Work highlights

  • Represented a former representative director of the largest telecommunications company, KT Corporation, in Korea and obtained disposition of non-indictment.
  • Represented Mirae Asset Securities Co., Ltd. in connection with alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Transaction Act and obtained decisions of suspension of indictment for all claims.

Yoon & Yang LLC

Yoon & Yang LLC represents multinationals and high-profile individuals in significant white-collar litigation and investigations in the areas of defence procurement, health care and TMT among other industries.  Sung Wook Cho is active in corporate crime investigations and government relations, together with Hee Sik Yoon who specialises in defence to criminal investigations and trials related to financial, tax and competition law issues. Former public prosecutor Young Min Seo is another key figure for white-collar defence.

Practice head(s):

Hee Sik Yoon

Other key lawyers:

Sung Wook Cho; Young Min Seo

Key clients

Samsung Electronics Service Co., LTD.

Samsung C&T Corporation

Kolon Life Science

Deutsche Securities Korea

Shinhan Investment Corp

KB Securities

Daeshin Securities

Work highlights

  • Defending the SK Innovation and its employees, who were previous employees of LG Chem, who is accusing the client of allegedly disclosing trade secrets.