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39 SAJIK-RO 8-GIL, JONGNO-GU, SEOUL 03170, SOUTH KOREA
Tel:
Work +82 2 3703 1114
Email:
Web:
www.kimchang.com

South Korea

International arbitration
International arbitration - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘lawyers are of the highest academic calibre and provide exceptional strategic input into shaping a case for the best commercial result’. The practice is headed by Byung-Chol Yoon and Eun Young Park, who are ‘globally renowned, heavyweight lawyers often involved in the biggest and most complex disputes’. Yoon, the ‘outstandingLiz Kyo-Hwa Chung and Sup Joon Byun successfully acted for the Korean government in an investment treaty claim concerning denial of benefits under the tax treaty between South Korea and the Netherlands. The team has a particularly strong reputation for commercial disputes and in one example Yoon and the ‘impressiveRichard Menard represented a private equity investor in an ICC arbitration involving disputes arising from the investor’s acquisition of a Korean franchise business. In the construction space, Byung-Woo Im, who is ‘very good with clients’ and Kay-Jannes Wegner, who ‘has a good balance of civil and common law sensibilities’, are acting for a major Korean construction and engineering company in an ICC arbitration relating to a supply contract of major equipment for one of the biggest power and water projects in the Middle East. The practice is noted for its ‘strength-in-depth’ with other key lawyers including Joel Richardson and construction specialist Sungjean Seo, who is ‘a hardworking and inventive lawyer’; while Una Cho, who has ‘good analytical skills’, Hye Sung Kim and ‘very effective advocateSejong Youn are all recommended.

Leading individuals

Byung-Chol Yoon - Kim & Chang

Eun Young Park - Kim & Chang

Liz Kyo-Hwa Chung - Kim & Chang

Next generation lawyers

Hye Sung Kim - Kim & Chang

Sejong Youn - Kim & Chang

Una Cho - Kim & Chang

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Legal market overview

The liberalisation of the Korean legal market remains on course and for the moment foreign law firms continue to house their offices in Seoul with a skeleton staff. Of the major domestic firms, Kim & Chang remains the front runner.

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South Korea: Antitrust and competition

Local firms
Antitrust and competition: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Changseems to work around the clock, and is geared towards the timelines and demands of European clients’ says a client based in Europe, exemplifying a global reach of the firm. Practice head Kyung Taek Jung secured a significant reduction in a fine imposed on Audi Volkswagen Korea following the company’s violation of the Fair Labelling and Advertising Act. The team was also successful in persuading the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) to discontinue a number of abuse of trade and cartel investigations: in one example Young Hoon Byun (who has ‘excellent communication skills both in Korean and Japanese’) and Kee-Hong Chun secured a non-violation decision from the KFTC following its investigation into an alleged abuse of a trade position by AGC-Asahi Glass Fine Techno Korea. On the non-contentious side, the practice handles many of the major merger filings in South Korea, and Youngjin Jung, Gene-Oh Kim, and Jae-Hoon Cheong assisted Samsung Electronics with merger approval for its acquisition of Harman International Industries. Senior foreign attorney Jung Won Hyun is another key individual for merger control work.

Leading individuals

Kyung Taek Jung - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Banking and finance

Local firms
Banking and finance Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang has ‘particular strength in matters related to the Korean export credit agencies’. The practice handles a number of significant project finance and asset finance mandates for the Export-Import Bank of Korea (K-Exim); in one example Hi Sun Yoon advised said client on its financing of three container vessels ordered by CMA CGM. Young Min Kim, whose ‘in-depth knowledge covers almost every field’, also impresses in this space. On the borrower side, the practice was instructed on numerous standout matters; Young Kyun Cho represented Goseong Green Power Korea in securing the finance for Korea’s biggest private coal-fired power plant, and Ie Hwan Yoo acted on one of the largest acquisition finance deals in Korea to date, namely advising Brookfield Property Partners on the KRW1.6tr finance for the acquisition of companies owning the International Finance Centre in Seoul. Hong Kong managing partner Kye Sung Chung leads the firm-wide finance department.

Leading individuals

Young Kyun Cho - Kim & Chang

Young Min Kim - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Capital markets

Local firms
Capital markets: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘excellent’ practice handles securities, derivatives and structured finance and is a popular choice for issuers and underwriters. On the equity side, Young Man Huh, Shin Kwon Lim and Hye Sung Kim assisted ING Life Insurance Korea and Life Investment with ING Life’s public listing of shares on the Korea Exchange, and Myoung Jae Chung advised domestic and international underwriters on Netmarble Games’ listing of its shares on the Korea Exchange. Chung was also highly active in the debt space, where he acted for HSBC, as managers, on GS Engineering & Construction’s $150m issuance of 4.5% Convertible Bonds due 2021, and also assisted KT with its $400m issue of 2.5% notes due 2026. Senior foreign attorney Hoin Lee is recommended for cross-border securitisations.

Leading individuals

Myoung Jae Chung - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Corporate and M&A

Local firms
Corporate and M&A: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘deep industry knowledge’ and impressive international client base ensures that the practice is instructed on a high volume of South Korea’s most significant transactions. In one standout matter, Bo Yong Ahn and Wan Suk Kim advised Brookfield Asset Management on its KRW1.2tr acquisition of 100% equity stake in the International Financial Center in Seoul. The team is also well known for its private equity expertise, and Shin Kwon Lim acted for MBK Partners on its KRW1.2tr acquisition of Daesung Industrial Gases. Other private equity clients include The Carlyle Group and Bain Capital Private Equity. In other highlights Young Man Huh assisted Taiheiyo Cement with its divestment of shares in Ssangyong Cement to a Korean private equity fund, and Young Jay Ro and senior foreign attorney Sang Goo Lee were part of a team that advised a consortium of investors on the acquisition of a stake in Hyundai Card. Practice head Kyung Taek Jung, Jong Koo Park and senior foreign attorney Sun Yul Lee are also key figures.

Leading individuals

Jong Koo Park - Kim & Chang

Young Jay Ro - Kim & Chang

Young Man Huh - Kim & Chang

Next generation lawyers

Sun Yul Lee - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Dispute resolution

Local firms
Dispute resolution: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

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.

Leading individuals

Sang Ho Han - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Insurance

Local firms
Insurance: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s expertise in regulatory and licensing work was once again in evidence with the team acting on a number of corporate transactions involving insurance companies; for example Jay Ahn advised Prudential on the regulatory aspects of its sale of PCA Life Insurance to Mirae Asset Life Insurance. Ahn also assisted Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty with its establishment of a Korean insurance branch. The team’s expertise extends to major litigation and Hyun Wook Shin successfully defended Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, Tong Yang Life Insurance, and Lina Life Insurance Company of Korea against charges that the insurers violated the Personal Information Protection Act. Other names to note are Woong Park, who heads the practice with Ahn, and attorney Joon Young Kim.

Leading individuals

Jay Ahn - Kim & Chang

Next generation lawyers

Joon Young Kim - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Intellectual property

Local firms
Intellectual property: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s substantial practice is a popular choice for international pharmaceutical companies, and in one example, Mee Sung Shim successfully defended Merck Sharp & Dohme in a negative scope confirmation trial relating to the company’s Cancidas patent. The team was also busy across the full range of IP, with practice head Jay Young-June Yang successfully acting for Discovery Communications in the Supreme Court in a cancellation action based on improper use of a trade mark by a Korean individual; and Eui Hwan Kim achieving a favourable result for Slowfood-Korea in a case that determined that a shop’s overall appearance comprises protectable trade dress under the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act 2009. Duck Soon Chang and Sang-Wook Han are also names to note.

Leading individuals

Jay Young-June Yang - Kim & Chang

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Patents and trade mark attorneys
Intellectual property: patents and trade mark attorneys - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

The ‘overall level of service is outstanding’ at Kim & Chang, where the team is ‘adept at providing strategies to strengthen a patent portfolio to ensure maximum patent protection for products’. Senior patent attorney Young Kim’s highlights included representing Wyeth in blocking the launch of a generic product by obtaining a sales stay under the patent linkage system from the Ministry of Food & Drug Safety, and successfully acting for F. Hoffmann-La Roche in appealing an earlier invalidity decision relating to a patent covering a biological product. Stand out individuals in the sizeable team include foreign attorney Alex Hyon Cho, who provides ‘very practical advice’ on trade mark and design issues, ‘exceptional’ foreign attorney In Hwan Kim and patent attorney Sang Young Lee. Man Gi Paik leads the patent prosecution practice.

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South Korea: Labour and employment

Local firms
Labour and employment: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang is ‘able to find creative solutions to overcome difficult labour problems’ and the practice’s offering takes in rightsizing, company turn-around, compensation and benefits design, and post-merger integration. Besides advising on a number of M&A-related restructurings, the team was also busy in the litigation space where it represented employers on a sub-contractor/dispatch worker dispute, and also handled a significant claim relating to the nullification of a salary peak system. In an example of the practice’s strength in the automobile sector, Jin Hwan Kim advised Mercedes-Benz Korea on the implementation of various privacy protective measures for customer’s personal information. Other noteworthy names include Chun Wook Hyun and Weon Jung Kim, who head the department, and senior foreign attorney Hoin Lee, who has ‘good communication skills’. Hyun Jae Park is ‘precise and hands-on’ and Ki Young Kim is ‘good on Korean labour law and corporate law’.

Leading individuals

Chun Wook Hyun - Kim & Chang

Weon Jung Kim - Kim & Chang

Next generation lawyers

Hyun Jae Park - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Projects and energy

Local firms
Projects and energy: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘very professional practice’ is regularly instructed by sponsors on the most significant domestic and international energy projects. Recent highlights include Young Kyun Cho acting for Goseong Green Power on the financing and construction of Korea’s biggest private coal-fired power plant, and practice co-head Ick Ryol Huh and the ‘very dedicatedChang-hee Shin advising Korea East-West Power on its participation in the Kalsel-1 2x100MW coal-fired power project in Indonesia. In the lender space Dong-Seok Oh is assisting K-Exim with the project finance for the construction and operation of a coal-fired power plant in Botswana. The practice’s expertise extends to the infrastructure sector where Cho acted for Kyobo Life Insurance and Hanwha Life Insurance as arrangers on the financing of a new highway from Seoul to Munsan. Yon Kyun Oh co-heads the team and was active in a number of corporate investment energy deals.

Leading individuals

Young Kyun Cho - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Real estate

Local firms
Real estate: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang leads the way in inbound real estate investment, with the team once again active in a number of blockbuster deals. Keun Ah Cho acted for Brookfield Asset Management on its KRW2tr acquisition of the International Finance Centre in Yeouido, and Seung Hoon Yeom assisted three Singaporean funds managed by the Blackstone with the KRW468.8bn acquisition from a Korean life insurance company of the Capital Tower building in Gangnam-gu. The team also handles real estate investment for public sector entities, and in one example practice co-head Kwan Sik Yu and Heung Suk Oh advised the Seoul Housing & Communities Corporation of the Seoul Metropolitan on the establishment of a REIT to acquire 2,143 apartment units for long-term rental housing operations. Other names to note include practice co-head Yon-Kyun Oh and attorney Sang Min Lee, who ‘processes complex issues fast’.

Leading individuals

Kwan Sik Yu - Kim & Chang

Next generation lawyers

Sang Min Lee - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Regulatory compliance and investigations

Local firms
Regulatory compliance and investigations: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s corporate investigations and white-collar defence practice is favoured by a large number of international businesses seeking assistance with compliance issues; in one recent example of work Hankyu Kim advised Akamai Technologies on complying with the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act 2016. The team also handled a number of major civil and criminal investigations across sectors such as automobile, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical. Other key names include head of practice Kook Hyun Yoo, Myungsuk Sean Choi, who has particular expertise in criminal cases in the healthcare and IT industries, and Seung Ho Lee, who specialises in white-collar criminal defence, particularly banking and securities transactions and defence industry matters.

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South Korea: Shipping

Local firms
Shipping: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘excellent service’ incorporates ‘very responsive and pro-active handling of cases and commercial advice that always includes a recommendation’. Practice head Byung-Suk Chung is highly active across a range of contentious mandates; as well as representing a significant number of creditors in insolvency claims against Hanjin Shipping, Chung also successfully defended the master and chief officer of the MV CSAV Tyndall in a criminal investigation arising from a collision that resulted in the deaths of four Korean nationals. The team also handled various international arbitrations including Dong-Seok Oh, Chul-Won Lee and Sungjean Seo representing a Korean shipyard in a dispute relating to the buyer’s early termination of a shipbuilding contract. On the non-contentious side, Chung assisted Hapag-Lloyd with amendment filings required by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Jin Hong Lee is another name to note.

Leading individuals

Byung-Suk Chung - Kim & Chang

Jin Hong Lee - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: TMT

Local firms
TMT: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s ‘particular strength in English communication skills’ makes it a favourite with major international technology companies such as IBM and eBay. Highlights included senior foreign attorney Richard Lee advising Google on the launch of YouTube Red in Korea. The practice is able to draw on the firm’s expertise in M&A to advise on a large number of major TMT deals and recently acted for DoubleU Games on its acquisition of IGT’s social online gaming business. In the media space Seong-Soo Park defended various cable TV system operators including CJ Hellovision and Hyundai HCN in a dispute over royalties for transmission of broadcasts. Other key figures include practice head Dong Shik Choi, who ‘sees the big picture’ and specialises in telecoms and broadcasting transactions and regulatory matters, and Jung Un Lee, who is ‘smart and hard-working’.

Leading individuals

Dong Shik Choi - Kim & Chang

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South Korea: Tax

Local firms
Tax: local firms - ranked: tier 1

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang’s substantial practice covers the full range of tax services, including tax planning, M&A, applications for tax exemptions, applications for tax rulings, transfer pricing studies and tax litigation. In 2016 the team handled a number of contentious matters in the energy sector, including Je Heum Baik successfully acting for SK Energy and SK Incheon Petrochem in an appeal to the Korean Tax Tribunal seeking cancellation of customs duty and surcharge impositions. Baik was also active in the VAT space, where he achieved a favourable result for eBay Korea in the Supreme Court in a case relating to whether coupons should be excluded from the VAT base. On the non-contentious side, Tae-Yeon Nam assisted a taxpayer with obtaining a letter of confirmation of transfer pricing adjustment from the Korean tax authorities. Woo Hyun Baik and Byung Moon Jung head the department.

Leading individuals

Je Heum Baik - Kim & Chang

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Kim & Chang

Legal Developments in South Korea

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