Tax: local firms in South Korea

Kim & Chang

'Enthusiasm and eagerness to meet the needs of clients' are the core strengths of the tax practice group at Kim & Chang, which is led by key practitioners Woo Hyun Baik and Byung-Moon Jung. The team comprises an integrated pricing and customs sub-practice and offers a broad range of services including assistance with tax planning, tax advice on corporate transactions, applications for tax exemptions, applications for tax rulings and transfer pricing studies. Most impressive is the firm's litigious tax work which sees the group defending taxpayer positions up to and including the supreme court, often on issues for which there is little or no legal precedent. Tae Yeon Nam and Hae Ma Joong Kim are highly recommended. Also of note is Sang Woo Lee, who specialises in tax dispute resolution and audits.

Practice head(s):

Woo Hyun Baik; Byung-Moon Jung

Testimonials

The work was done by a highly engaged team with a deep knowledge and broad experience in tax‘.

Sangwoo Lee is a professional lawyer with deep knowledge on income tax, especially incomes generated from abroad. Sungweon Cho is a professional lawyer with high levels of expertise in tax lawsuits; he is eager to solve matters for the client‘.

Kim & Chang’s tax practice is the best in the market; all of team members are very highly skilled and they have wide-ranging relevant network throughout the tax world, including relationships with regulatory bodies‘.

I was impressed by Yungu Kang and Sungweon Cho. They are always accurate, up-to-date and provide good technical advice from a practical perspective. They also demonstrate superb case management and I would definitely contact them as a first choice in future‘.

Key clients

Goldman Sachs

LG Electronics Inc.

Citibank

CJ

Morgan Stanley

Hyundai Motors

GE

Oracle Korea

e-Bay

National Oilwell Varco

Work highlights

  • Landmark Supreme Court win on requirements for a qualified spin-off on behalf of OCI Company.
  • Litigation regarding the appropriateness of interest rates on shareholder loans borrowed by social infrastructure businesses on behalf of a major infrastructure fund.
  • Landmark case involving the beneficial ownership of royalties on behalf of Viacom International Hungary.
  • Landmark Supreme Court Decision on Beneficial Ownership on behalf of industrial and manufacturing company.
  • Landmark Supreme Court Decision on tax residency under the Korea-US tax treaty on behalf of an individual taxpayer.

Yulchon

Amazon, Google and Netflix are just a few new names which recently instructed the tax team at Yulchon. The boost to the firm's client roster was accompanied by several key arrivals from both in-house teams and rival law firms; particularly of note is Joo Heon Lee who joined from Seoul Bankruptcy Court in March 2019. Approximately 50% of the tax practice is comprised of aggressive tax litigation, with the remainder a roughly even split between tax audit work and M&A-related tax structuring and advice. A specialist transfer pricing sub-practice is another hallmark of the department; Dong Hoon Ha is the name to note on this front. Key contacts Seok Hoon Kang and Dong Soo Kim are joint practice heads.

Practice head(s):

Seok Hoon Kang; Dong Soo Kim

Other key lawyers:

Joo Heon Lee; Dong Hoon Ha

Key clients

Amazon

Google

Microsoft

Qualcomm

AMD

Corning

Cadence Design Systems

Koch Industry Group

PTC

Airbnb

Netflix

Expedia

Agoda

Shutterstock

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Goldman Sachs PIA

TPG capital

Macquarie

Morgan Stanley

Hyatt

L’Oréal International

UPS

Meritz Alternative Investment Management

Hyundai Asset Management

Mirae Asset Global Investments

Work highlights

  • Assisted L’Oréal International on its acquisition of 100% of the issued shares in Nanda Co., Ltd.
  • Assisted with the restructuring of Molex Korea by Koch Industry Group.
  • Preparation of transfer pricing documentation for Goodpack Korea.
  • Louis Vuitton Korea’s pre-audit transfer pricing risk assessment.
  • Restructuring of the Korean business of Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC handles a broad range of tax work but is best known for representing clients in tax disputes. The firm has an excellent track record of defending corporations in major tax assessments. Transfer pricing is another core area of expertise; besides basic review of intercompany transactions, the team is also instructed on the preparation of transfer pricing studies, advance pricing agreements and mutual agreements procedures. Furthermore, the practice works closely with the firm's white-collar crime department to assist clients with highly contentious tax probes, investigations and litigation. Wu Cheol Song and Il Young Cho together lead the group. Foreign attorney Maria Chang is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Wu Cheol Song; Il Young Cho

Other key lawyers:

Maria Chang

Work highlights

  • provided comprehensive tax advice to Hdac Technology with regard to its virtual currency ICO transaction.
  • Represented Anchor Equity Partners in an Advance Pricing Agreement  case against the National Tax Service.
  • Provided tax advice to IMM Investment in the context of its acquisition of shares of a Vietnam corporation through an investment in a joint venture in Singapore.
  • For VOGO Fund, BKL analyzed the tax implications in South Korea and overseas, and provided advice on the investment structure for the world’s asset managers, including Macquarie, Ardian, Ares, and TPG.
  • Provided advice for Shinhan Alternative Investment Management on most of its overseas investment cases.

Lee & Ko

Jay Shim and Myung Sub Kim jointly lead the tax practice group at Lee & Ko. The offering spans bespoke corporate tax advisory, assistance with tax audits, tax planning (both inbound and outbound) and customs law cases. On the contentious side, the team handles both administrative tax disputes and tax litigation. A number of recent arrivals further strengthened the bench, which now accommodates 4 former research judges from the tax division of the supreme court; especially of note is ex-chief research judge Sung Hwan Kim, who joined in March 2019. Also recommended are Byeong Jun Son and Sung Hyun Ryu, both of whom possess significant litigious tax expertise.

Practice head(s):

Jay Shim; Myung Sub Kim

Key clients

MasterCard

Microsoft

Amazon

ADT Caps

Bayer Korea Ltd.

NH Amundi Investment & Securities

Baring Private Equity Asia

Polaris Shipping Co., Ltd.

Shinsegae

SK Telecom

Songwon Industrial Group

Hwagok 3 Reconstruction Association

Police Mutual Aid Association

Korean Veterans Association

STX Offshore & Shipbuilding

Golfzon

Dongwon Enterprise

Medtronic Korea

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation

Hanwha Asset Management

Samsung SRA Asset Management

POSCO

CJ

Daelim Industrial

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction

GS E&C

Hyundai Motor

Korean Air

LG

Lotte

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering

Humax

Woori Bank

Korea Development Bank

Quilvest Private Equity

Alazar Technologies Inc.

Ingevity

Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., Ltd.

Lindstrom Oy

MaeilFoods

Showbox Co., Ltd

Korea Professional Golf Association

United Air Lines, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended ADT Caps against the NTS’s imposition of taxes on a foreign corporation with respect to the transfer of the corporation’s Korean subsidiary.
  • Represented EG Inotech in a tax audit defense against the Korean tax authority with in-depth analysis of the incremental share value.
  • Represented SK E&S  with respect to the imposition of the value-added tax  in the amount of $110 million and customs in the amount of USD 44 million by the Gwangju Main Customs office under Article 32 of the Customs Law.
  • Represented Kolon Industries with respect to corporate income tax refund in the amount of approximately $38 billion and successfully led the Tax Tribunal to cancel the Korean Tax Authority’s decision to reject the requested tax refund.
  • Represented New Airport Highway in tax litigation.

Shin & Kim

In the tax space, Shin & Kim focuses on providing consulting services for purely non-contentious matters. These include advice on tax planning, inheritance, tax aspects of mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring and those of financial transactions (such as asset-backed securitization and the sale of non-performing loans). The firm fields a team of experienced attorneys, licensed customs consultants, former tax officials and certified public accountants. Choon Cho and Hyeon-Jin Kim are the key contacts; also recommended is Hee-Chan Byun.

Practice head(s):

Choon Cho; Hyeon-Jin Kim

Other key lawyers:

Hee-Chan Byun

Yoon & Yang LLC

'High levels of commitment to and care for clients' are distinguishing features of the tax department at Yoon & Yang LLC. Managing partner Oh-Young Jeon heads up the offering, which has both contentious and non-contentious capabilities in this arena. Core areas of operation include advising on tax compliance, tax audits, international taxation, customs and tax disputes. The firm's client list in especially varied, fielding wealthy individuals, large Korean conglomerates and small and medium-sized enterprises. Seung Soon Lim is highly recommended, as is associate Jung Yeol Lee who provided 'particularly well thought-out advice and services of associate' to one client. Lee boasts prior experience as a public attorney at the ministry of justice.

Practice head(s):

Oh-Young Jeon

Other key lawyers:

Seung Soon Lim; Jung Yeol Lee

Key clients

BTC Korea dot com Co., Ltd. (Bithumb)

Avellino Inc. / Avellino Lab USA Inc.

COINONE Co., Ltd.

Manuli Rubber Industries S.p.a.

Shinhan Bank

SPC SAMLIP CO., LTD.

LG Household & Health Care Ltd.

Booyoung Co Ltd.

Korea Railroad Corp.

STC LIFE Co., Ltd.; bBHC Co., Ltd.; STC Eden Co., Ltd.; Mr. Gye-ho Lee

Ms. Ok-im Kim

Incheon Port Authority

A total of 23 Asset Management companies including DB Asset Management and KB Asset Management, etc.

CDL Hotel Korea Co., Ltd.

Korea Racing Authority, Korean Sports & Olympic Committee, Animal Holdings

Nutribiotech Co., Ltd.

COSMAX, INC. and COSMAX BTI, INC.

Work highlights

  • Provided tax advice to BTC Korea dot com Co., Ltd. and successfully supported the company’s tax investigation.
  • Provided tax advice for Manuli Rubber Industries S.p.a.’s in-kind investment in a Dutch company with shares of a Korean Company.
  • 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.
  • Advised SPC SAMLIP CO., LTD. based on the review of the relevant tax laws concerning succession to reserve for appropriation in the following term in merger and submission of written questions to the NTS.
  • Applied for an advance tax ruling on behalf of LG Household & Health Care Ltd. based on the review of whether an act of purchasing tax-free products supplied to a downtown duty-free store and distributing and selling them in Korea constitutes an offense of smuggling.