South Korea


Dispute resolution

Leading Korean law firm Yulchon has a roster of nearly 250 professionals in its dispute resolution team alone, including more than 150 trial lawyers led by nearly 30 seasoned partners. In addition to legal practitioners, the group has other professionals such as accountants and industry experts to provide support to its litigators. The disputes offering covers the full spectrum of practice areas, with the market acknowledging its strengths in tax, finance, competition, construction, product liability, labour, intellectual property and white-collar crime. The firm is recognised as a pioneer in class action disputes and for its Supreme Court wins, overturning lower court decisions at a high rate.

Recently, the firm has expanded its scope of expertise to encompass new areas such as mobility, blockchain, education, healthcare, hospitality, sports and entertainment, personal data protection, and environment and energy. The firm has segmented intergroup practice teams to offer tailored specialisation for its clients, with members of both the transaction side and disputes side in each team. For example, the firm offers finance, healthcare, mobility, insurance and sports and entertainment teams, among others.

The firm also boasts special regional practices, with experts from diverse practice groups equipped with the appropriate language and cultural background to suit clients’ needs. Yulchon has offices in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Russia and Vietnam; and it is part of the TechLaw Group, Ius Laboris, and Taxand networks and alliances.

Partners Dong Ryul Choi, Il Bong Moon and Do Hyeong Kim are key contacts in the firm’s commercial disputes team. Other core leaders for disputes work include international litigation and arbitration specialist Yoon Jae Baek, intellectual property expert Jeong Yeol Choe, insolvency partner Chul Man Kim, tax partner Seok Hoon Kang, competition specialist Sang Hyean Gwack, construction and real estate expert Ju Bong Park, and labour litigator Jae Keun Lee.

The Yulchon team was busy in a potential precedent-setting matter, representing the Korea Exchange (KRX) in a civil action brought by the shareholders of Gamma Nu over the bourse’s decision to delist the company. This case has great significance in that it tackles the question of which duty of care is borne by the KRX and which requirements would place liability on the KRX to compensate the shareholders.

Shinhan Investment Corporation has instructed Yulchon in an action for damages regarding an investment in a leveraged crude oil futures exchange-traded note (ETN). The key issue is whether the client, as the issuer of the leveraged crude oil futures ETN and the liquidity provider, is liable to the investors for the loss incurred.

The top rated tax litigation team was successful for client Hyundai Glovis on its Tax Tribunal appeal in relation to a transfer pricing assessment. The lawyers succeeded in establishing that the entities in charge of manufacturing finished automobiles and manufacturing parts entered into an advance agreement regarding the purchase price, whereas the logistics entity derived profits through cost reductions. The legal team pointed out the transfer pricing assessment contradictions between the law and relevant guidelines, resulting in a fully victory for the client. This case is particularly meaningful because it firmly established that the special characteristics of the industry, and not simply benchmarking values, must be considered during transfer pricing analyses.

The antitrust team mounted a successful defence for Hanhwa Machinery in the KFTC’s abuse of dominance investigation alleging an illegal misappropriation of technological information regarding solar cell technologies. The team is acting for Qualcomm in the high-profile, long-running battle against the competition authority’s abuse of dominance accusations and $920 million fine. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.

Seoul Guaranty Insurance Company hired the Yulchon insolvency litigators for representation in litigation between creditor financial institutions that were involved in the workout of 21st Century Shipbuilding. The team helped its client prevail in the first instance, the only party out of numerous other financial institutions.

The group added 13 senior practitioners and partners last year, while three disputes lawyers left. Notable additions include former judges Yeon Hak Kim, Chul Ki Min, Seung Ho Lee and Min Seung Ku. Partner Hyung Suk Suh rejoined the firm from LKB Partners, a litigation boutique recognised for its work in high-profile criminal defence. Former partners Jun Yeob Lee left for the Supreme Court, Eun Jae Park departed for an in-house role at Lotte Corporation and Yung Sang Lee moved to Coupang.

The firm counts domestic giants such as Booyoung Group, Dong-A Pharmaceutical, Korean Air and Samsung among its key clients. Daebo E&C, Kumho Industrial, Seoul Semiconductor and Qualcomm have all worked with the firm recently.

Client feedback

“Yulchon lawyers have good understanding of client's goals. They are enthusiastic and passionate. They accurately identify the facts and key issues of each case. Their work has good results. In litigation, the Yulchon team plans ahead and estimates future process and opponent's direction of argument and prepares scenarios for various cases. Yulchon did oral argument based on such scenario and strategy. Yulchon makes customers comfortable and is very kind to them. Also, they provide customised service and know what needs to be done, even when we cannot accurately say what is necessary. In other words, they are sensitive to client needs and perform their duties from the perspective of the client. The result is satisfying. They also provide good business advice, considering the impact that the work we entrust with them would have on our company, affiliate companies or the industry, and also the impact on other cases of other companies. Yulchon fees are reasonable too.” – Commercial and transactions

“Very good technical legal advice with strong commercial application.” – Competition and antitrust

“Proactively represented our company with well-developed defence strategies against the challenges from the tax auditors during the regular tax audit.” – Tax

Cecil Saehoon Chung

“Excellent legal and commercial advice, innovative and strategic.”

Ki Young Kim

“Provide legal advice and litigation strategy.”

Kyu Dong Kim

“Communication and proactive problem solving.”

Il Bong Moon

“He could grasp the facts and legal issues in a very short period of time. Based on that understanding, he organised the team with proper experts and coordinated our needs and the team's ability. More specifically, he led us dig into the relevant facts that we never even considered. Accordingly, we could find more facts that are advantageous to us and it was crucial in winning the case. Also, he was great at witness examination. He was able to draw favourable statement from a hostile witness by elaborately orchestrating the whole examination. He does not have a fixed way of thinking. He has a very flexible mindset. He uses imagination and looks at the root cause of a phenomenon or relevant facts from various viewpoints.”