Collecting an Unpaid Invoice from a Korean Bankrupt Debtor

The number of bankruptcy and rehabilitation filings in Korea is on the rise. The last creditor to be paid is, typically, the foreign company. We receive emails, on nearly a weekly basis, from companies and individuals attempting to collect commercial debts in Korea. Many of these creditors are not aware that the Korean debtor has filed for bankruptcy or is experiencing financial difficulties.  
Before Engaging in a Relationship with a Korean Company
1. Before engaging in any work or giving a Korean company money – please do a little due diligence. Many SMEs and even conglomerates (many construction companies) are experiencing serious financial difficulties. Do a little due diligence before wasting your time and money. If you find that the Korean company is experiencing financial issues, the agreement with the Korean company should be tailored to reflect these realities.2.  Before continuing work with a company in Korea – please do a little due diligence. Many companies with no problems paying you in the past – might be experiencing problems now. Do a followup check on the company.

After Realizing you Got Yourself in a Pickle
1.  Immediately send a formal demand letter from a Korean law firm. The demand letter may be answered with a bankruptcy/rehabilitation notification (mandated by law if the company is in proceedings);
2.  Quickly ascertain if the company has any assets. Law firms can, typically, assist with discovering assets.
3.  File a Payment Letter to the local Korean court; and 
4. If you are a victim of a fraud, consider filing criminal charges.

In all debt collection matters in Korea – it is necessary to act quick. Assets disappear quickly and the courts in Korea are very efficient in closing cases quickly. Act fast or you may be left with only an invoice.

Sean Hayes is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw, and IPG Legal is consistently ranked Top Dispute Resolution Law for our litigation services.

If you would like a consultation with an English-speaking lawyer in Korea, please schedule a call at: Schedule a Call with an Attorney.

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