Miran Lim and Emeli Zuño report on the shining lights in the legal world who provide their clients exceptional services to meet the rising demands of South Korea’s export sector
South Korea is a powerhouse in the realm of global economies. Today, it is the 10th largest economy in the world and has achieved remarkable growth and transformation. This boost has made it an attractive market for businesses across the globe.
The country’s success lies in its emphasis on long-term growth, elevated human development, incorporation of technology and innovation at every level. As a result, the export sector has seen significant growth due to deeper integration into global value chains.
In the third quarter, South Korea’s economy saw a 1.4% year-on-year growth, outpacing the previous quarter’s 0.9% and registering a 0.6% month-on-month increase. However, persistent high interest rates have subdued private consumption and equipment investment, and despite the rebound in semiconductor demand, overall exports are showing a gradual decline.
While construction investment remains strong, it is expected to slow down due to reduced construction orders and declining market conditions. With a contraction in domestic demand, inflation is on a downward course, and the pace of job creation in the service sector is losing steam. However, amid these challenges, South Korea’s current account surplus is growing, reflecting the slowdown in domestic demand.
A gradual deceleration in domestic demand growth is projected for the Korean economy due to internal and external economic factors. Still, a rebound in exports is likely to soften the contraction. Also, despite the potential decrease in consumption and substantial downsizing in construction investment caused by high interest rates, the Korean economy is predicted to grow slightly due to improvements in the global semiconductor market.
South Korea’s focus on innovation, technology and market competition makes it a pivotal market for businesses worldwide. Its ambitious economy, backed by government reforms and structural changes, offers ample opportunities for growth and investment.
In light of these developments, Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-List of the top 100 practising lawyers in South Korea. The list is based on extensive research conducted, and nominations received from in-house counsel based in South Korea and elsewhere, as well as South Korean-focused partners at international law firms. Nearly all of the A-List lawyers are strategically located in Seoul, the country’s capital and largest metropolis.
John JungKyum Kim, co-head and international lead of the insurance & reinsurance practice group at Dentons Lee, has been commended by Assad Amini, senior legal counsel at Robert Walters – a specialist recruitment agency in Japan for foreign and global companies. Amini lauds Kim for his outstanding quality advice, clarity, solutions and practicality.
“With John by our side, we have never been turned down for any request but offered solutions,” Amini said. Praising the depth of Kim’s understanding and application of the law, he continued, “We will work with John for the remainder of his practising years.”
Jeong Ran Lee, managing partner at DR & AJU, is hailed as a genius in antitrust, ESG and general legal issues. Hyunsoo Chang, legal director at Huons Global, a diverse healthcare company in South Korea with subsidiaries in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food sciences, endorsed Lee for always ensuring satisfactory outcomes for clients.
“She provides professional legal advice on fair trade law and corporate management, and her client service is highly satisfactory,” commends Ha Hyo-jeong, legal department manager of SP Nature Co Ltd. Hyo-jeong also notes that her active manner towards represented lawsuits has resulted in numerous victories, further solidifying her position as highly preferred among companies.
Information protection virtuoso
Hwan Kyoung Ko, a partner at Lee and Ko, is regarded as an expert in personal information protection, who is relied on by big names such as Naver Corp – a global ICT company in South Korea offering advanced technology platforms and diverse digital services. He is recognised for his extensive expertise in data processing-related industries.
“Ko responds sensitively to the needs of our customers and provides the most reliable quality of results in paperwork,” said Jinkyu Lee, director at Naver Corp.
Suakbuam Hong, partner at Yoon & Yang, is distinguished in his field for addressing complex antitrust investigations and litigations.
“He provides comprehensive solutions to address issues effectively … he addresses each client’s needs based on knowledge,” praised Dong Suk Lee, general counsel at Samsung Medison Co Ltd, an ultrasound diagnostic device manufacturer in South Korea.
TaeHyun Moon, CEO of Hugo Morton Korea – an investment and management company for high-tech, cultural and real estate development projects, who has benefited from Hong’s services for multiple years, commented, “Thanks to his professional advice, our businesses have been able to run well without serious issues.”
Chloe (Jung-Myung) Lee, partner at Lee & Ko, is particularly recommended by industry leaders for businesses related to security token offerings (STO), digital finance and fintech. Joosik Lee, STO business team leader at GalaxiaMoneytree, a financial platform in South Korea known for its advanced and comprehensive e-payment solutions, hailed her for resolving issues efficiently, stating, “Her accurate judgment and insight tailored to the situation make attorney [Chloe] (Jung-Myung) Lee stand out even more.”
Renowned as a leading lawyer in the startup ecosystem, Won H Cho, founding member and partner at D’LIGHT Law Group, is applauded for his ability to simplify legal complexities.
“Cho distinguishes himself from other good lawyers with his ability to explain legal complexities to non-experts in simple language with a patient demeanour,” said Chan Woo Sung, senior legal director and head of OGC at Nike Korea, a top-tier distributor of sporting and recreational goods based in Seoul.
Compiling the A-List
The A-List is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. To identify the top 100 lawyers in Korea, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Korea and around the world – as well as partners at international law firms – and asked them to tell us which lawyers should make the cut, and why.
Nominations were made by professionals at a wide range of Korean and global companies, financial institutions and law firms including Asung Daiso, Continental Automotive Korea, E1 Corporation, Eland, Galaxia Moneytree, Globalization Partners, HANDSOME Corp, Hilton Korea, Hugo Morton Korea, Huons Global, Hyundai Rotem, Kakao Corp, Kakao Entertainment, Korea Seven, LG Electronics, LG Energy Solution, LG Household & Health Care, Lotte, LVMH Korea, LX Holdings, Mulberry Korea, NAVER Corp, NIKE Korea, PartnerRe, Pulmuone, PwC, Robert Walters Japan, Samsung Medison, Samsung SDI, Samsung SDS, SK Shieldus, Smilegate, SP Nature, Starr International Insurance, Swiss Re Asia and many more. Thorough editorial research followed the nomination process.
The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the Asia Business Law Journal editorial team’s extensive experience in documenting and analysing the legal market in Asia. All Korean private practice lawyers and foreign lawyers based in the country were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nominations process and, as always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.
The names and photographs of all 100 A-List lawyers are published on the pages that follow. In addition, each A-List lawyer was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details, for which a publishing fee was charged.
It is important to note that while compilation of the A-List was based solely on independent editorial research, the biographies and contact details that appear alongside many of the listings have been written by the participating lawyers, and the content has not been independently verified by Asia Business Law Journal.