Future of Bitcoin in Korea according to FTC: Korean Cryptocurrency Updates

The head of the Korean Fair Trade Commission has noted to local vernaculars that he does not agree with Justice Minister Park Sang-ki’s comment that “cryptocurrency investment is gambling.”  He further noted that: “cryptocurrency recently emerged as an issue in Korea and other laws do not have the exact legal clauses that relate to closing exchanges.”  Thus, indicating, in part, that the Korean government doesn’t have the specific power to close the Korean cryptocurrency exchanges.  Of course, the FTC Chairman’s opinion does not have any legal binding effect, however, his opinions are widely respected by academics and legal practitioners. Many legal practitioners I have spoke to, in Korea, believe that the government shall not have the power, because of the number of traders in Alt Currencies to ban trading in Alt currencies.  This reality may lead to a settling of this issue via the imposing of capital gains tax on

Continue reading »

Is Bitcoin Banned for Foreigners in Korea? Korean Bitcoin Law Updates

This Law Firm has wrote a few articles on Bitcoin Law in Korea.  This Alt Currency/Bitcoin Law articles may be found at: Court Challenges to Governments Ban on Cryptocurrency in Korea and Will the Korean Government Ban Bitcoin? Other article can be found via searching the Blog.  A Forbes article notes, with one significant caveat, that: “All foreigners, including residents, nonresidents and “kyopo” ethnic Koreans with foreign citizenship, will be banned from trading cryptocurrencies in Korea, the FSC’s foreign media department said by email. Minors are banned after Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon earlier claim the cryptocurrency craze could lead the youth toward crime.” However, the article, additionally notes that: “However, Kang noted a loophole. In the new system, foreigners and minors can’t possibly make investments as it operates on a bank’s real-name account, but they could potentially use corporate accounts to make additional investments. ‘There’s no limit to that for now. We haven’t

Continue reading »

Korean Cryptocurrency Case Filed to the Korean Constitutional Court: Korean Bitcoin Updates

The author of this blog, formerly worked for the Constitutional Court of Korea and he is excited to see this matter being litigated in Korean courts.  The issue, as I have always noted, is simply if government are willing to protect the freedom of individuals to trade and speculate in asset classes of the choosing of the investor.  While, I am far from sold on Bitcoin (and other Alt Currencies) as a long-term asset class plays – of course any free democracy shall allow its citizens to invest in asset classes the government doesn’t favor.  The key to this issue, seemingly, is just if Alt Currencies shall be considered mere asset classes. As the reader likely knows, various branches of the Korean government have noted that the Korean government shall either ban Bitcoin exchanges in Korea, prohibit banks from linking accounts to exchanges or otherwise prohibit the use of Alt

Continue reading »

Is a Bankruptcy in the U.S. “Effective” on Assets in Korea?: Korean Bankruptcy Law Basics

The following article on the interplay between Korean Bankruptcy Law and foreign bankruptcy laws was motivated by a question from a reader from the Korea Times.  The following is from a column I used to write for the Korea Times.  Please note the present Bankruptcy Law in Korea was amended and the present topic, while interesting, shall not apply to present bankruptcy proceedings.  However, take a read – very interesting matter.  I shall be posting some of my old articles from a prior weekly column over the next couple of weeks, since these articles no longer appear online. Legal Ease Column by Sean Hayes from Sept. of 2003 (Korea Times) Dear Sean, I just received notice that a former customer filed bankruptcy in New York. The bankruptcy court attached his assets in the United States, but the assets didn’t cover the entire debt owed to me. He also has assets

Continue reading »

English-speaking Korean lawyers and International Lawyers at International Law Firm in Korea discussing issues of Korean Law

IPG Legal is a leading client-focused international law firm with offices in Korea that is, often, selected over the ubiquitous Korean Law Firms when success is essential and success depends on nuanced street-smart advice, proactive  and unconflicted representation. Our attorneys are, intentionally. different from the crowd.  From our retired judge partners to our junior associates, we are all trained with an intense focus on client success, lawyer proactivity, and to understand the nexus between your commercial and legal needs. Our attorneys shall never push to you useless memos, non-nuanced legal advice or get you into litigation without an honest assessment of the merits and shortcomings of the matter. We are  – intentionally different from the crowd.  Globally Experienced – Locally Connected.  We are IPG.  Korean Legal Practices Korean Antitrust, Competition & FTC Arbitration, Int’l & Domestic Korean Civil Litigation Korean Criminal Defense Korean Corporate Law & Compliance Korean Employment, Labor &

Continue reading »

Korean Currency Control Laws Revised: Korea Won – Yuan

Yonhap News, a Korean-language wire service, reported today that the South Korean government has revised currency control law in order to allow the direct trade of South Korean Won and Yuan.   The Korean Government is expecting this move will increase trade, while allowing the diversification of foreign currency holdings. Yonhap notes, in part, that: “The [M]inistry [of Strategy & Finance] said South Korea’s Hana Bank and Woori Bank have been designated as the clearing banks to take charge of won-yuan settlements and payments. The Chinese won-yuan exchange market is scheduled to start operating in June in Shanghai, a follow-up to a summit meeting between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in October 2015. The direct trade market in Seoul was already opened in December 2014, with its daily turnover reaching an average of $2.26 billion as of end-November last year.” We will be writing,

Continue reading »

Restructuring of Korean SMEs a Potential Lucrative Business in Korea

Bloomberg has an interesting article on “Zombie” companies in Korea.  Many of these companies have decent cash flow, but because of Korean corporate realities many have been less than capable of controlling costs. The Bloomberg article, in part,  notes: “One of the biggest concerns is so-called “marginal” or “zombie” companies, usually defined in Korea as businesses that haven’t been able to make payments on interest from operating profit for three years. A prolonged period of low interest rates has led to an increase in marginal companies and there is an “urgent” need for restructuring, Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju Yeol said this month. Financial Services Commission Chairman Yim Jong Yong has warned that unless the problems at these companies are addressed, they will become a burden to the economy. The number of marginal companies jumped to 3,295 last year, from 2,698 in 2009, according to the central bank. They

Continue reading »

Will the Korean Government Kill Bitcoin? The legality of Bitcoin in Korea

Bitcoin in Korea Local Korean vernaculars have reported that Bitcoin and other “Alt Coins” are to be investigated by the Bank of Korea, Korea’s Prosecutors Office and other government agencies. It is alleged by some in the Korean government that these crypto-currencies may be nothing more than Ponzi or Pump & Dumb Schemes.  While, others, proclaim these currencies are at the foundation of freedom and they help to fight inflation imposed by central banking authorities, allows for anonymous transactions and low transaction fees. If the Korea government has made up its mind on the future of Bitcoin in Korea we are, likely, to see, among other things, prosecutions, businesses being sanctioned for accepting Bitcoin and the blocking of sites that promote or utilize Bitcoin. Korea has struggled with the acceptance of new technologies that infringe on some of the major vested interests (e.g. Uber) and we suspect that Bitcoin will

Continue reading »

Korea New Exchange (KONEX) Basics

The Korean Exchange (KRX) established, on July 1, 2013, an SME only-listed securities market with the, facial, purpose of providing a new avenue for SMEs in obtaining assets for investments.  A KONEX-listed firm with capabilities to list, at a later date, on the KOSDAQ or KOSPI may, also, benefit from a stream-lined procedure to list on the KOSDAQ or KOSPI.   Korea’s capital markets have been, strongly, criticized for not providing adequate funding sources for small companies.  Most funding for companies either comes from the banks or via modest government grants and loans.  With the banks becoming more conservative in funding ventures, because of the recent Korean banking crisis, the KRX launched the KRX, partially, to assist in resolving this issue.   The listing of a company on the Korea New Exchange (KONEX) is much easier than on the KOSPI or KOSDAQ. However, investing on the exchange may be difficult for

Continue reading »

Fiscal Transparency in International Business: International Business Structures

The September 2015 edition of International Bar Associations “Business Law International” has an interesting article entitled: “Fiscal Transparency – International Business Structures and Issues” The article is useful for, also, those doing business in Korea.  The articles does not, specifically, address in any detail issues in Korea, the article does a great job in explaining issues relevant to those forming partnerships/joint ventures with UK, U.S. and developed European economies. The article notes, in part,  that: “The continued globalization of business generally and the increased burdens imposed by such measures as common reporting have brought into focus the issues arising with transparent entities and how they are regarded internationally.  Most unsatisfactorily is the absence of a consistent position as to whether an entity is transparent or opaque by default.  As the Anson cases demonstrated, the complexity in this area can be considerable.  resolving this may prove difficult and it might be

Continue reading »

Stock Options in Closed Corporations in Korea

For stock options in Korea to be exercisable, thus valid option contracts, the option must be approved, in most cases, at a general shareholders meeting of the issuing Korean company.  If approval of the shareholders is obtained the articles of incorporation, for the option to be valid, should, among other things, note: An intention that a stock option may be granted in specified cases;  The number of shares to be issued or transferred in the case of exercising the stock option;  Qualifications of a person to whom a stock option is to be granted; Exercising period of the stock option; and  An intention that the granting of the stock option may be revoked by a resolution of the board of directors in specified cases. Korea Commercial Act art. 340-3(3)1.  Additionally, the company granting the options should execute an agreement with the individual granting the options and the stock option should,

Continue reading »

Samsung’s Win Against Elliott is Korea’s Loss According to Bloomberg

Mr. William Pesek, a columnist for Bloomberg, wrote an interesting article on the battle between Samsung and Elliott.  With a majority of the local Korean vernacular running stories how the  Samsung merger will increase investments (Samsung Merger to Driver Growth in Pharmaceutical Business), Bloomberg is questioning if this will be the final straw for an increasingly perceived anti-foreign capital destination. The article is a worth a read.   The articles notes, in part, that: “Now that it’s likely to go through, the deal will embolden Korea’s other family conglomerates — known as chaebol — to act even more selfishly than they do already. It’s also sure to perpetuate the so-called “Korea discount,” which depresses stock valuations relative to developed-market peers. That’s the price for the sort of dodgy corporate governance regularly displayed by Samsung, Hyundai and other Korean companies. Corporate Korea needs to understand shareholder skepticism is a normal part

Continue reading »

Korea’s Real Name Transaction Act Strengthened: Korea’s Banking Law Basics

The National Assembly of Korea, in May of 2014, passed an amendment to the Act Concerning Financial Transactions by Real Name and Confidentiality Protection (“Real Name Transactions Act”). The Real Name Transactions Act, prior to this amendment, only, imposed fines on employees of financial institutions that violated the law, but did not impose these fines on those that lend or borrow a name/identification details in order to engage in a transaction. The new Real Name Transactions Act shall be enforced from the end of November of 2014. Potential penalties for violation of this Act include imprisonment up to 5 years or a fine of up to KRW 50  million.  The administrative fines for employees of financial institutions is increased from KRW 5 million to KRW 30 milllion. The Real Name Transactions Act, also, imposes an affirmative duty on the employees of financial institutions, in some cases, to explain the details

Continue reading »

Bail Granted in Korea for Alleged Violations of Korean Banking Laws

We are proud to announce that we, recently, prevailed in a white-collar criminal matter concerning an alleged crime involving violations of Korea’s Banking Laws.  The allegations stemmed from transactions between a payment processor and a major Korean financial institution.  Bail was granted for the non-Korean banker/businessman and, promptly, upon the granting of the bail by the Korean court, the Seoul Prosecution decided to drop all charges against our client.  In Korea, it is very difficult to obtain bail in cases that are being vigorously pursued by the Prosecution.  The conviction rate, in Korea, is greater than 99%. We are proud to note that our criminal defense team has been successful in obtaining bail and not guilty verdicts for the majority of our foreign clients.  Our success is based on the dedication, passion and proactive nature of a very experienced retired judge, prosecutor and one of Korea’s best known expat attorneys.

Continue reading »

Merger/Acquisition Opportunities in Korea: Lotte Korea Buys KT Car Rental from KT Corp.

In a sign of changing times in Korea, KT Corp., a company best known for its telecom business, has sold its car rental business to the unlisted Hotel Lotte Co. Ltd., a company controlled by Lotte Group. The publicly reported acquisition price is over US$900 million. Lotte is a leading Korean-Japanese hotel company with its hands into about everything imaginable including construction, retail, textile, food products, beverages, oil & gas and entertainment.  However, it competitive advantage is in retail shopping and the hotel business.  KT is the former national telecom and, now, a leading player in both fixed and mobile telecommunication.  Yes, I also question why a telephone company would own a car rental company.  The answer lies, often, in the excessive need for conglomerates to grow their ranks of buildings, employees and news headlines.  Often the reason for business lines being formed outside of the competitive advantage of the

Continue reading »

Credit Rating Agencies in Korea: Due Diligence of Your Supplier, Franchisee, Joint Venture Partner & Distributors

Korea has established four credit rating agencies.  The four agencies are: National Information & Credit Evaluation (NICE); Korea Investor Services (KIS); Korea Ratings (KR); and Seoul Credit Rating & Information (SCRI). Some reports provided by these rating agencies are provided in English.  However, many of the English reports are not complete.  Thus, it is advisable to make sure if you have an English version of a report that it is same as the Korean version of the report. Additionally, it is best to have someone with knowledge of the Korean business climate review the reports, since some clues to issues are unique to Korea. Some companies are required to have a credit rating performed by a Korean rating agency.  If a company wishes to issue asset-based securities and unsecured bonds the company, in Korea, will need to apply for a credit rating via one of the Korean credit rating agencies.

Continue reading »

Corporate Bankruptcy/Restructuring in Korea: The Line Begins Here (Korea’s Chapter 7 & 11 Bankruptcy)

Corporate bankruptcy/insolvency procedure in Korea is similar, in many respects, to the U.S. Chapter 7 & Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedures with some significant differences. Korean corporate insolvency structure is legislated via the Korean Debtor Rehabilitation and Bankruptcy Law (KDBRB).  The KDBRB replaced a convoluted and often conflicting myriad of laws in the form of the Corporate Rehabilitation, Composition and Bankruptcy Act.  On April 1, 2006 this new law became effective. Bankruptcy Basics in Korea (Chapter 3 of Korean Debtor Rehabilitation and Bankruptcy Law)Bankruptcy, in Korea, is a court-managed liquidation procedure.  The procedure is governed by Chapter 3 of the KDBRB.  The basic salient aspects of bankruptcy in Korea are: The bankruptcy procedure commences after a filing by either a debtor, creditor or group of creditors and determination by the court that a company is “bankrupt.”   The holding of the court that a company is “bankrupt” suspends any execution actions based

Continue reading »

Hanwha Korea Loses Battle in New York Court over Forum Non Conveniens Issue

Hanwha Life Insurance, a Korean Insurance company, case against UBS AG was dismissed by a New York court.  We are, likely, to see the case filed in Korea or Hong Kong in the near future.  This, holding, if appealed, will, likely, be upheld.  The lawsuit stems from Hanwha loss of US$ 30million in a complicated financial product.  The case is, also, weak on the merits, since, intern alia, Hanwha is a sophisticated investor or, at least, should be one. The Manhattan Supreme Court (NY trial court) noted that: “While this court is capable of applying Korean law, a Korean court is more familiar with such law and better suited to resolve the parties’ disputes . . . (claims) arose almost entirely from events and transactions that took place outside of New York and mainly in Korea and Hong Kong.” Let’s see if the case goes any farther in Hong Kong

Continue reading »

Korea Contracts Don’t Forget the Counter-party: Due Diligence before Executing an Agreement in Korea

We see numerous matters coming before us from parties in the States or Europe that are importing a product from a Korean company.  Of course, the products are either faulty or never come. We, also, see cases where a Korean company is importing a product and the importing party ends up not being the party that the American or European company thought they were doing business with. Also, often, companies in Korea are broken up into smaller companies.  The manufacturing arm may be one company, the sales arm one company and these companies are wholly owned by a holding company.  Of course, the agreement ends up being with the broke sales arm. Thus, know the counter-party.  Due Diligence is required.  Due Diligence is not checking the firms website or simply matching up the name on the PO with the Wire Instructions.  A wire will, normally, clear even if the name

Continue reading »

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal for the Week of July 21, 2014

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal for the Week of July 21, 2014Korean Legal News Reported by the Media on the Week of July 21, 2014 South Korea Plans $40 Billion Stimulus to Tackle Weakening Growth Seoul to push tax on corporate cash reserves U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief urges FTA implemantation Workers in Their 60s Outnumber 20-Somethings Mortgage deregulation raises concerns Most Recent Posts from the Korean Law Blog Debt Collection in Korea: Foreign Creditor vs. Bankrupt Korea Debtor Opportunities in Korea’s Growing Tuning & Performance Modification Industry for Foreign Companies Korean Fugitives on the Run: Getting more Difficult with Change of Law Distribution Agreements in Korea: Crawl before you Walk Is Samsung Doomed? No Innovation Price Trap ___ Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com. Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney

Continue reading »