Firm Profile > KL Partners > Seoul, South Korea

KL Partners
17th floor, East Wing, Signature Tower
100 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu
Seoul 04542
South Korea

International arbitration Tier 2

KL Partners has gained significant traction in the domestic and international legal market since it was established in 2015, when experienced arbitration partners Beomsu Kim and Eun Nyung (Ian) Lee left Shin & Kim to set up a new firm. In addition to serving existing clients that have turned to the firm for advice since its inception, the team has also recently won mandates from a significant number of new clients. With all of the aforementioned founding partners having a corporate law background, the firm has become a first port of call for high-profile post-M&A arbitration cases; one recent example involved the group acting for private equity firm Lone Star Funds in a $500m Singapore-seated ICC arbitration against Hana Financial Group; the dispute arose from Hana’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Korea Exchange Bank in 2012. Also notable is that the firm has been instructed in groundbreaking investor-state disputes, as has been evidenced by its work acting for Elliott Funds and Mason Capital Management LLC in separate investor-state arbitration cases against the Republic of Korea. Young Suk Park chairs the international arbitration practice, having joined from Atinum Partners in October 2018. Dong-Seok (Johan) Oh, who joined from Bae, Kim & Lee LLC in March 2019, is the overall head of the dispute resolution practice (which covers both international arbitration and cross-border litigation). John M. Kim and Byungsup F. Shin left to establish Kim & Partners.

Practice head(s):

Dong-Seok (Johan) Oh – Head of Dispute Resolution Practice Group; Young Suk Park – Co-chair of International Arbitration Practice Group

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Elliot Funds

Mason Capital

Lone Star Funds

Vogo Funds (VIG Partners)

Wemade Entertainment

MBK Partners Ltd

Kumho-Asiana

Yuanta Securities

WeWork

H&M

Corporate and M&A: local firms Tier 3

Although KL Partners is a relatively new firm (having been established in 2015), it has already established an excellent reputation among many of the largest and most active domestic and international private equity firms; clients include KKR, Baring Private Equity and IMM. It also has a strong client following among corporates. In addition to winning work in its own right, the firm generates a significant amount of referral work from foreign law firms. In 2018, practice head Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi was the lead adviser to KTB Private Equity (KTB) on the circa $230m sale of shares in Junjin Heavy Industry Co. Ltd. to Well To Sea Investment and Motrex. In another highly-publicised transaction, Eun Nyung (Ian) Lee and others assisted Shangdong Ruyi Group with acquiring Lycra companies from Koch Industries for over $2bn. The team has been strengthened recently by the arrivals of Seonho Kim and Young Suk Park from SEUM Law and Atinum Partners respectively. Other practitioners in the group are Jisun HwangDoo-Ri Jeong and In Sung KimTim Kim has left to help establish Kim & Partners.

Practice head(s):

Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Kumho-Asiana Group

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR)

Starbucks

H & M

NBC Universal Group

Elliot Funds

KTB Private Equity

Wework

Migros Group / Mibelle

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Shangdong Ruyi Group

Mason Capital

Dispute resolution: local firms Tier 3

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.

Practice head(s):

Beomsu Kim (managing partner); Dong-Seok (Johan) Oh (head of dispute resolution); Ki Seong Park (chair of litigation practice group)

Key clients

Universal Pictures

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

Dom Technology

Achiban Design

H&M

Hyundai Heavy Industries

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering

Hyundai Engineering and Construction

Hyundai Engineering Corporation

Hyundai Motors

Samsung Heavy Industries

Hanwha Engineering and Construction

Posco International

Korean Export Import Bank

Daelim Corporation

The firm: KL Partners was founded in 2015 by a group of four leading specialists in the fields of international dispute resolution and corporate/M&A. Led by partners who have consistently been recognised by foremost legal publications as leaders in their respective fields, KL Partners consistently finds itself at the forefront of Korea’s most significant disputes and high-profile M&A transactions.

KL Partners does not seek to be the largest firm in Korea. Rather, its goal is to be the firm of choice for clients facing difficult legal issues, challenging disputes and critical business dealings. KL Partners’ core values are providing dedicated client service based on a keen understanding of the client’s needs and goals, ensuring the highest quality of service led by hands-on partners from start to finish, and offering value-added service by lead teams comprised of specialists in the relevant fields.

Main Areas of practice: 

International Dispute Resolution: KL Partners is the first firm of its kind in Korea to specialize specifically in cross-border litigation and international arbitration.

Commercial Arbitration: Based on its partners’ experience and background as leading corporate/M&A attorneys in Korea, KL Partners is recognized as a market leader with unparalleled hands-on experience and expertise in post-M&A and corporate related disputes, including shareholder disputes, post-merger disputes, joint venture, earn-outs and commodity sales, etc.

As a result, KL Partners has been chosen by sophisticated M&A participants, who are able to recognize the difference between “general practitioners” and “industry specialists”, to handle the most complicated and high-profile post-M&A arbitration cases in Korea.

Investor-State Disputes (ISD): The firm’s partners are widely known and recognised as pioneers and front-runners in the emerging area of investor-state disputes (ISD) in Korea, having represented the investor in the first-ever ICSID proceeding brought against the Republic of Korea. The firm has also recently been selected to act in two additional ISD cases, further solidifying its position as the market leader in the area of investor-state disputes.

The firm’s international dispute resolution practice group is led by leading attorneys in the field who have acted as counsel in some of the most high-profile cases, including numerous cases before the Korean courts, ICSID, ICC, SIAC, HKIAC, KCAB, LCIA and ad-hoc arbitrations under the UNCITRAL rules.

Corporate/M&A: KL Partners advises on a broad range of corporate matters, including M&A, cross-border investments and private equity transactions. KL Partners’ Corporate/M&A team is led by partners who have consistently been recognized by foremost legal publications as ‘Leading Lawyers’ in the field of corporate/M&A in Korea.

Since its opening, KL Partners has been retained to handle some of the most high-profile domestic and cross-border M&A transactions and has consistently been ranked in the Korea M&A league tables as one of the top law firms in terms of deal size and volume.

Beomsu Kim (managing partner): Mr Kim, managing partner and chair of the international dispute resolution practice group, is widely recognised as a market leader in the area of cross-border dispute resolution, with particular expertise in ISDs and commercial arbitration. Prior to establishing KL Partners, Mr Kim led the international dispute resolution practice group at Shin & Kim and served as a judge at the district courts of Korea for nine years and as an arbitrator in numerous arbitration proceedings.

Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi (partner): Mr Yi is the chair of the corporate/M&A practice group. Mr Yi has worked on some of the most high-profile M&A transactions in Korea and has been regularly recognised as a leading attorney in the field of corporate/M&A in Korea. Mr Yi is also a professor at Yonsei University law school, which is one of the top law schools in Korea.

John M Kim (senior foreign counsel): Mr Kim focuses his practice on international arbitration, as the vice-chair of the international dispute resolution practice group, as well as corporate/M&A matters. He is consistently recognised as a leading attorney in his field by various leading international legal publications.

Eun Nyung (Ian) Lee (partner): Mr Lee focuses his practice on international arbitration as well as corporate/M&A and banking/finance matters. He has experience in cross-border and domestic M&A, private equity, acquisition financing and real estate transactions and financing. He is also highly specialized in commercial arbitration and is one of the leading partners in the firm’s international dispute resolution practice group.

Ki Seong Park (partner): Mr Park focuses on representing clients in disputes related to finance, securities, antitrust, commercial transactions and hostile M&A transactions based on his extensive litigation experience in Korean courts.

Department Name Email Telephone
International Dispute Resolution Beomsu Kim bkim@klpartners.com +82-2-6226-7701
International Dispute Resolution, Corporate/M&A John M Kim jmkim@klpartners.com +82-2-6226-7705
Corporate/M&A Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi shyi@klpartners.com +82-2-6226-7703
Corporate/M&A John M. Kim jmkim@klpartners.com +82-2-6226-7705
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Jaewoong Bang  photo Mr Jaewoong Bang
Mr Jae Hyuk Chang  photo Mr Jae Hyuk Chang
Mr Min Ho Han  photo Mr Min Ho Han
Mr Heedong Hwang  photo Mr Heedong Hwang
Mr Han Gyeol Im  photo Mr Han Gyeol Im
Mr Jeong Cheol Kim  photo Mr Jeong Cheol Kim
Ms Jessika Kim  photo Ms Jessika Kim
Mr Seung Wook Kim  photo Mr Seung Wook Kim
Mr Byung Chul Kim  photo Mr Byung Chul Kim
Mr Gyuel Kim  photo Mr Gyuel Kim
Mr Keewoong Lee  photo Mr Keewoong Lee
Mr Young Suk Park  photo Mr Young Suk Park
Number of Lawyers : 23
English
Korean