Lee & Ko

South Korea

Analysis

Overview

An undisputed premier firmLee & Ko holds steady in the rankings as a foolproof choice for its impressive roster of offshore and onshore clientsIts renowned finance practice wins plaudits from peers and clients that acknowledge its frequent role representing lendersThe firm was elevated this year into the Oustanding tiers for labour and employment and real estateDespite a slowdown in the capital markets, Lee & Ko’s traditional dominance in the DCM space helped it maintain a steady flow of debt deals.  Managing partner Yong Seok Ahn is recognised for his corporate and competition expertise. The firm experienced the usual inflow and outflow of talent. Notable recent team movemements include capital markets partner Ryu Seung Won lateralling over from Kim & Chang in early 2021 and corporate partner Seung Hyo Baek being hired from DR & Aju. Competition counsel Moo Song Park joined from the KFTC, and antitrust partner Hyun Young Ju joins from the Supreme Court of Korea where he was a research judge. Competition partner In Seok Lee also moves into private practice from Daejeon High Court where he sat as a presiding judge. The dispute resolution group welcomed four new partners, all coming from range of courts and prosecutor’s offices. IP partner Terry Kim left to establish his own precious metals mobile platform, while IP specialist Heon Lee joins from the IP division of the supreme court where he was a judge. The tax team grew with 10 new hires.

Client feedback 

Lee & Ko is active in cases by appointing a number of skilled attorneys. This includes a separate economic analysis team in paricular, ensuring detailed analysis and swift response. – Competition and antitrust 

They have superior legal knowledge and various experiences on both domestic and overseas M&A cases, and their client-oriented and problem-solving attitude and earnest communication always gives us great satisfaction. – Corporate and M&A 

They are really responsive and diligent. Based on their abundant experience, they always provide high quality services at reasonable pricesThey are very trustworthy. – Corporate and M&A 

Provides quick and appropriate feedback. – Corporate and M&A 

Swift responses and adoptable solutions. – Corporate and M&A 

They sincerely treated our requests with care and always tried their best. – Intellectual property 

Excellent professionalism. – Labour and employment 

On time and client-oriented. – Labour and employment 

Lee & Ko presented various evidence to the court in a recent severance pay lawsuit and helped us win the first lawsuit by unfolding appropriate legal logic. – Labour and employment 

It has at least two of the top-of-the-nation lawyers in data protection and privacy, and their legal advice and opinions have great authority, even in the government. The way they present their advice and opinions is very professional, and of the topmost quality in the country. So, whenever I need a truly trustworthy piece of legal advice or opinion, Lee & Ko is the first choice, no matter what. – Privacy and data protection 

Top talent lawyers with a committed attitude. – Private equity 

Dedicated legal service. – Shipping 

The team’s attitude is professional and sincere, and its legal advice is very practical. – Tax 

Woojin Choi 

Provides dedicated legal advice. 

Byong Ki Chung 

Due to his help, the result of the case looks positive and we expect a fair amount of reduction of the compensation damage cost, which is in favour of our firm financially. 

Chang Soo Jin 

“Client-oriented. 

Kyungchun Kim 

Excellent service, swift responses, and an understanding of the client's business. 

Hwang Kyoung Ko 

He is the single most knowleageable and good-mannered lawyer in the data protection and privacy field. His expertise encompasses finance, privacy, intellectual property, criminal justice related to privacy, and others. 

Myoung Chul Kwak 

Offers reasonable solutions based on his wide experience. 

Jung Won Kwon 

I have worked with her for a couple of merger filings in recent years. She is very good at drafting and filing the report even when the information given is not quite organised and sufficient. Due to her understanding of the business and great communication skills with case-handlers, we got swift clearance from the KFTC every time she assisted us. 

Ho Joon Moon 

Ho Joon is the most trusted legal counsel among all the lawyers I have known so far. He has great depth of experience in M&A and corporate legal matters and has been recognised by many global private equity clients, including ourselves. He also has great sense of collaboration with any other legal firms due to his sincere and all-rounded personality. He is focused and really puts his hands on real issues. 

Keum Nang Park 

She corresponded perfectly to our needs in all aspects of work. 

Jay Shim 

Professional in legal knowledge combined with tax. His legal advice and solutions are very practical and helpful. The attitude from the lawyer is very sincere and trustworthy. 

Hyunseok Song 

Excellent management. 

He has been doing a lot of research in the field of labour law. He understands the characteristics of the company well, provides data tailored to companies like our company, and has excellent communication skills. He also performs well in lawsuits. 

Yongjoon Yoon 

He has deep knowledge in both the law and business sectors, and, with his various experiences, always suggests satisfactory problem-solving solutions. 

 
Tax

Work highlights 

Assisted Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors to assess the legal feasibility and compliance of data sharing platform for leading auto manufacturers in Korea. 

Advising Coupang on a compliance project for its e-commerce platform and new OTT service.  

Acted for Woori Bank on the licensing of its MyData business.  

Key clients 

Audi Volkswagen, KakaoBankLG Chem, Naver, Tencent Holdings 

 
Labour and employment

Work highlights 

Engaged by Samsung Electronics for a landmark criminal trial for unfair labour practice charges. The case became one of the largest scandals in Korea and ultimately the team successfully defended its client. The appellate court reversed the lower court’s ruling and most of the company’s executives including its president, were found not guilty.  

Advising Citibank Korea in a wrongful termination litigation with the case expected to proceed to the Supreme Court. This case represents the first instance where the court was asked to review the scope of the Labour Relations Commission’s fact-finding authority and procedure. No precedents or guidelines were available on this issue for the court.  

Key clients 

ACN Korea, Ebay US, Hyundai Motors, Ikea Korea, Kia Motors, Samyang International, Sanofi Aventis 

 
Intellectual property

Work highlights 

Advising Ericsson-LG in defending against an infringement action .  

Represented Big Hit Entertainment in procuring the first-ever decision to recognisthe right of entertainment companies against free-riding off of artists’ fame  

Assisting JNC Corporation and JNC Petrochemical Corporation in upholding the validity of its patent against Merck. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the validity of JNC’s patent against Merck’s claims, while setting forth a new standard for inventiveness. 

Key clients 

Daewoong Pharmaceuticals, Hanwha Solutions, KPX Chemicals, LG Chem, Novartis, Tunghsu Group 

 
Dispute resolution

Work highlights 

Successfully represented the CEO of SK Chemicals, the largest chemical company in South Korea, in a criminal case concerning a humidifier sterilising agent. The client received a non-guilty verdict in January 2021.  

Acted for Gamma Nu against the Korea Exchange in a lawsuit seeking invalidation of the delisting and won before the Supreme Court in August 2020. This was the first case in Korean history to conclude that a delisting decision made by the Korea Exchange based on an audit opinion was unlawful.  

Represented Pharmicell in a lawsuit seeking revocation of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s decision to reject an application for a conditional licenceThis was the first case in which a rejection of a conditional licence was disputed successfully 

Key clients 

KleaNaraMitsubishi Electric, Lotte HimartMirae Asset Financial Group, Samsung Electronics 

 
Investment funds

Work highlights 

Advised Hana Alternative Asset Management on the formation of a master-feeder structure junior debt blind fund.  

Acted for Tiger Alternative Investors on the acquisition of student housing near the University of Texas through the set up a private real estate fund. 

Represented IGIS Asset Management on the forward purchase of shares for the acquisition of three pre-completed Amazon logistics centers through multiple investment vehicles including Korean investment trusts 

Key clients 

GIC Private, KTB Asset Management, Woori Global Asset Management

 
Restructuring and insolvency

Work highlights 

Acted for DSME Construction on its application for bankruptcy declaration by RCPS shareholders.  

Advised HNT Electronics and Korea Housing on their separate rehabilitation proceedings 

Key clients 

Busan Bank, Daesang Corporation, Heung-A Shipping, HosunjeongZeo Partners 

 
Corporate and M&A

Work highlights 

Advised SK Engineering & Construction on its KRW1 trillion acquisition of EMC Holdings from Affirma Capital 

Represented Hahn & Co on its KRW1 trillion acquisition of Korean Air’s in-flight catering and duty-free business 

Acted for Skylake Investment on its KRW1 trillion acquisition of Doosan Solus from Doosan Corporation 

Key clients 

CJ Olive Young, Hyosung Corporation, Key Foundry, Korea Development Bank, LGMiSK Foundation, SK Global Chemical

 
Capital markets

Work highlights 

Acted for the Republic of Korea on its 700 million zero coupon notes and $625 million 1.000% notes issuance. 

Advised Hana Bank on 500 million covered bonds due 2026 issued under $5 billion Global Covered Bond Programme.  

Represented SK Battery America on its issuance of $300 million 1.625% Guaranteed Green Notes due 2024 and $700 million 2.125% Guaranteed Green Notes due 2026 guaranteed by SK Innovation.  

Key clients 

Cheil Electric, KB Securities, Korea Development Bank, Korean Southern Power, POSCO, The Export-Import Bank of Korea

 
Competition/antitrust

Work highlights 

Acting for Mirae Asset Group companies in an unfair intra-group transaction case. This case is significant in that it is the first case in which the KFTC applied the provision about intra-group transactions to a financial company.  

Assisted Korea Development Bank as a major creditor in the Korean Air and Asiana Airlines merger. 

Engaged by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hyundai Cosntruction Equipment for a KFTC investigation into unfair trade practice issues and unfair trade charges.   

Key clients 

Celltrion, DL E&C, SK Telecom

 
Banking and finance

Work highlights 

Advised HDC Holdings on the restructuring and $970 million financing for the Seoul-Chuncheon Expressway. 

Represented Kookmin Bank on the $5.2 billion financing for gas pipeline project in Canada. 

Acted for Young City REIT and D&D Investment on the $500 million financing for the acquisition of Young City Office Complex by an SK affiliate 

Advised the Korea Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of Korea and Nonghyup Bank on financing $667 million to LG Chem Wroclaw Energy.  

Key clients 

Darbyhana Asset ManagementKEB Hana Bank, Kookmin Bank, Mirae Asset Daewoo, Samsung Securities, Shinhan Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong 

 
Regulatory

Work highlights 

Represented Korea Midland Power in criminal proceedings involving potential violations of the Construction Act, Clean Air Conservation Act, and Water Environment Conservation Act. The client was investigated for failures to comply with applicable procedures under the said statutes during its construction of a new thermal power plant 

Acted for Mirae Asset Group on obtaining a waiver of charge for vilating a provision of unfair profit to specially-related persons in the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act.  

Advised Hanwha Life Insurance on itpotential expansion into the financial services platform business.  

Key clients 

Gangwon Technopark, Juul Korea, Kia Motors