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 &

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Korea to Rule if Pokémon GO Can Be Released Nationally in Korea

Korea awaits a decision from the government that will effect the national release of the wildly-popular Pokémon GO app. We recently discussed the legal ramification in America that come with use of augmented reality games like Pokémon GO on our sister blog, The New York Law Blog.  Augmented reality games involve live direct or indirect views of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.  In the case of Pokémon GO, fictional creatures are projected onto a mobile device’s camera through the game’s app and relies on Google Maps, as part of the game’s presentation, to locate various elements of the game. Pokémon GO has yet to be released across Korea, the 4th largest gaming market in the world, because of alleged concerns for cyber security. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) is scheduled

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Starting a Business in South Korea: Top Posts from the Korean Law Blog

We write many posts on the Korean Law Blog on entering the Korean market.  However, the list is getting so large that many people have requested that we make a list of the posts that we feel are the most useful for those entering the Korean Market.  Thus, here we go.  More posts will be added to this list as they are written: Selling to Korea via Distributors, Agents & other Non-Direct Sales Channels Joint Venture/Partnerships in South Korea Test the Korean Waters and Then Hit China Protecting your Intellectual Property in Korea Korean Outsourcing: Legal Basics Tax Qualified Mergers in Korea Due Diligence in Korea New Corporate Forms in Korea Korean Labor Law Checklist for Employers The Ten Commandments of Labor Relations in Asia Please, also, take a look at the labels to the right, please search via the search box to the left and, also, click through to

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So you Want to Start a Partnership/Joint Venture in Korea?

Business, in Korea, can be profitable and enjoyable.  However, business in Korea can, also, lead you to a jail cell and premature balding.  One key to success, in Korea, is to get the Korean joint venture structured by a professional from the start of the relationship with your joint venture partner(s).  Don’t just download a joint venture agreement or partnership agreement from the internet.  Vet your partner and, also, learn the expectations of your partner. We know you have “limited funds” (we all have limited funds -even multinationals and Donald Trump have limited funds) choosing to forgo having the deal structured by a professional and just downloading an agreement off the internet will, likely, lead to you having even less funds, less time and less hair. Do not be what my father likes to call young kids these days – knuckleheads.  I saw cases that ended up in the Prosecutor’s

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Five Businesses to Avoid in Korea

We get a number of hare-brained foreigners that have requested advice on the opening of some peculiar businesses.  Here are a few businesses that we do not advise opening in Korea.  Farming. Prohibited for foreigners and foreign companies.  For example, the growing of rice and barley is prohibited for foreigners.  The farmers don’t even want to be in this business.  Stay away. Publishing & Broadcasting.  Prohibited for foreigners to own 50% or more of a publishing company and totally prohibited in the case of radio & TV.  The industry is, also, saturated and the few foreigners operating as a minority shareholder in the publishing industry have faced difficulties in recent years, because of fierce competition for advertisers.  Raising Dogs for Consumption.  I, actually, had a man call me about this one.  Ignoring that this may be a prohibited business for foreigners, you will, likely, have a few protestors that will

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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.

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Starting a Business in South Korea

We wrote many posts on this Korean Law Blog on entering the Korean market.  However, the list is getting so large that many people have requested that we make a list of the posts that we feel are the most useful for those entering the Korean Market.  Thus, here we go.  More posts will be added to this list. Selling to Korea via Distributors, Agents & other Non-Direct Sales Channels Joint Venture/Partnerships in South Korea Test the Korean Waters and Then Hit China Protecting your Intellectual Property in Korea Korean Outsourcing: Legal Basics Tax Qualified Mergers in Korea Due Diligence in Korea New Corporate Forms in Korea Please, also, take a look at the labels to the right and, also, click through to the other articles noted within the articles above.  We are, presently, attempting to compile are blog posts into a more usable format, however, with over 700 posts

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Establishing a Company in Korea: New Korean Corporate Forms Available under Revised Korean Code

According to the Ministry of Justice, over 95% of corporations in Korea are formed as a Chushik Hoesa, while the Korean Commercial Code (KCC), at this time, defines four different types of Korean potential business entities.  In order to allow a little more flexibility, two new business forms have been created.  The recent amendment to the Korea Commercial Code, that will be promulgated from April of 2012, introduces two new forms of Korean business entities: Hapja Johap (LLP) Yuhan Chaekim Hoesa  (LLC) We expect that more foreign investors will choose the Hapja Johap and Yuhan Chaekim Hoesa forms and few new market entrants will utilize the Yuhan Hoesa form, because of the added flexibility of the Hapja Johap. Chushik Haesa (Joint Stock Company – Co. Ltd./Corp./Ltd.) Chushik Hoesa is the only corporate entity that is allowed, at the present, to publicly issue shares.  The revision will not change this.  The vast majority of incorporators in Korea chose the

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Korean Immigration Law’s 20% Rule Challenged

Increased direct foreign investment to Korea is, facially, Park Gun Hye’s Administration’s top priority. However, according to the Korea Herald, it seems like the Korean bureaucracy is not following the Park Administration. The Korea Herald reported that foreign companies have increased complainants about the current Korean immigration law as exemplified in at a government-organized forum in Seoul last week.   The complaints have come, in part, because “[u]nder Korean immigration regulations, companies are allowed to employ a workforce with up to 20 percent of their employees being foreign semi-professionals or skilled laborers on an E-7 visa.” Some participants argued that under the current regulations, foreign companies have to employee more local workers in order to increase their foreign workforce, which “adds to the financial pressure to many small and medium-sized foreign companies.” We see this and other issues with Immigration that we have seen, first hand, is causing many foreign

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Do you Sell Buggy Whips? Succeeding in a Competitive Korean Market

In many ways, the 19th century continued until the outbreak of World War I. The 20th century ended with the fall of Lehman Brothers.  In confusing times such as these, it is natural for people to draw parallels as a way to understand current events surrounding us. They hope to gain some insight on an uncertain future. Here are some examples: A recent issue of BusinessWeek suggested that America of 2009 may learn from Japan of the 1990s. In Korea, journalists, businesspeople and even some economists refer to the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis as a case study from which they may forecast a future. But America is not Japan. In so many cultural and political ways, such comparisons defy making accurate projections. And the “IMF Crisis” was a regional event. It was relatively isolated from the global economy, compared to the worldwide crisis we face today. Today, several public figures

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Business Opportunities in Korea for Entertainment Companies

I just read a blog post by my friends over at the China Law Blog that motivated me to write the following post.  Korea is an excellent testing ground to determine the feasibility of your business for other Asian markets such as China or Japan.  The country has, also, proven more profitable, for many businesses, than the often too hard to catch “Chinese Middle Class.” The following is a list of some industries that are successful in Korea: 1.  Franchises.  The franchise market in Korea is booming.  All major players are in Korea and most are doing very well.  Many of the lesser-known franchises have also succeeded.  2.  Education.  Koreans have a thirst for education that seems insatiable.  Much of the market, however, is closed to foreign competition.  3. Military Technology.  Korea is one of world’s largest purchasers of military technology.  All major players have a solid footing in Korea

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Negotiating a Joint Venture Agreement in Korea: Shareholder Agreements in Korea

We recently had a client with a myriad of joint venture issues.  The issues were caused, primarily, because of the joint venture agreement being drafted, only, in English without a review my client or a competent lawyer and most of the negotiations occuring through a translator.   For example, the American company believed that the joint venture agreement mandated that all disputes were to be handled via arbitration in Hong Kong.  The American company SEVP noted this to the interpreter as non-negotiable.  The agreement was drafted in Korean and the American SEVP never reviewed the joint venture agreement in anything but the Korean language.   Oddly enough, the law firm drafting the agreement never even mentioned this to the American Company. Because of this issue the SEVP and the in house attorney that assisted on this deal were fired.   The international law firm operating out of Hong Kong was, also, fired.  Please

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12 New Items Prohibited from Export from Korea by Overflow of Core National Technology Law of Korea

The following is the list of the 12 new items that have been newly prohibited from export from Korea without an export license/acceptance of report of export from the Ministry of Knowledge Technology of Korea.  The export prohibition was implemented by the Overflow of Core National Technology Law of Korea.   The prohibition takes affect from the beginning of 2011. Electric /ElectronicProducts Foundry process & device technologies of less than 31 nms. Design/process/manufacturing technologies of AMOLED panels (except for module assembly process technology). Design technologies of lithium secondary batteries with high-energy density (200Wh/Kg or more)  & high-temperature safety for electric cars. Information Technology  Products          Design technologies of system for Advanced LTE/LTE. Design/process technologies of Mobile Application Processor SOC. User Interface (UI) technologies for Smart Phone Devices. Design technologies of Baseband Modems for Advanced LTE/LTE. Design technologies of RFIC and PAM for Advanced LTE Terminals. Design technologies of Base Station for Advanced

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Nine Musts for a Succesful License Agreement in Korea

License Agreements in Korea are too often, simply, a spinning of license agreements used in the West.  Your foreign license agreement, in most cases, is not adequate for your needs in Korea.  Our 9 Musts before Engaging in a License Arrangement in Korea 1.  Due Diligence Say it three times and read my posts:  Doing Business in Korea:  Due Diligence, Agreements, Attorneys and Street Smarts 2.  Royalty Clause  Include in your license agreement a royalty clause.  The clause should detail, at a minimum:  Currency conversion rate or payment in the currency of your home nation  Payment terms  Accounting and audit particulars  Tax treatment 3.   Inspection  An inspection of the first batch of goods is a necessity and periodic inspections are recommended for most products.  Agents are available to conduct these inspections. 4.  Choice of LawIf the license is for a smaller value, often, it is best to simply utilize Korea as

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Finding a Korean Distributor: Top 10 Things to Know Before you Jump into Bed with an Agent in Korea

Too often we deal with clients looking to collect on unpaid invoices to distributors/customers in Korea and resolve IP and other disputes between these distributors/customers because of clients rushing into relationships without vetting out the anticipated distributor or having a very poorly drafted distribution agreement. Many distributors in Korea are fantastic, while, others are nothing more than order processors -they, simply can’t or don’t want to sell.   Additionally, in these tough economic times, too many companies, in Korea, are struggling to stay afloat.  If your distributor doesn’t know the market, you will find yourself with unpaid invoices from customers and issues with your distributor. Do yourself a favor and consider the following before engaging a local company to distribute your products. 10 Ten Things to Consider Prior to Doing Business with a Distributor in Korea Has the Korean distributor worked with other foreign companies?  If not, you are dealing with

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Is K-Pop Sustainable? Tom Coyner by IPG’s Senior Adviser

For the past five years I have monitored with detached interest how Hallyu, or the Korean Wave has grown from a local pop phenomenon into an international trend. There is no denying it. The Korean Wave is huge. But by living in Korea, one could easily get the impression that the Korean Wave has taken the entire planet by storm and there is no telling where Korean culture will make its next global impact. But is this really the case? I know as a fact there is creative team in a major Korean tourism bureaucracy that is divided into two camps. One camp tries to shoehorn the Korean Wave into just about everything they touch. The other camp is about ready to scream if they hear “Hallyu” yet one more time. And that pretty much sums it up. Either one believes the entire globe is hooked on the Korean Wave

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Sales of Imported Cars Increase in Korea: American Cars Still Not Popular in Korea

The sale of imported cars increased over 16% percent in August of 2012 when compared to August of 2011 in Korea.  The increase is attributed to the aggressive sales promotions by local dealers and increased interest in luxury foreign cars.  The free trade agreements may have, also, made more mid-income consumers consider purchasing a foreign cars. The U.S. (7.1% of foreign car market in August) is still lagging way behind European (77.9%) and Japanese (15%) competitors even, though, American car companies offer the best deals in the market. Why are Americans cars not popular in Korea?  __________ Sean Hayes, IPG’s Co-Chair of the Korea Practice Team, may be contacted at: [email protected]

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Why do Some Foreign Companies Fail and Some Companies Succeed in Korea?

The Chosun Ilbo posted an interesting article on why some multinational companies fail in the Korean market.  The article notes, in part, that: Struggling in Korea. Swiss multinational Nestle has achieved stellar performance in global sales of its mainstay coffee and powdered milk. Not so in Korea, where the market for coffee mix is worth around W1.3 trillion (US$1=W1,128). Nestle entered the Korean market in the 1980s with its Taster’s Choice brand of instant coffee and maintained the No. 2 spot for 30 years. But it fell to third place in January this year after ceding the No. 2 spot to Namyang Dairy’s popular French Café brand. The gap between the No. 2 and 3 players grew wider with Nestle’s market share plummeting to just 5 percent. In 2001, Nestle started selling its NAN baby formula products in Korea, but it pulled out altogether in 2008 after maintaining barely a

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Korea’s GDP Per Capital Reaches USD 30,000 PPP

Hyundai Research Institute has announced in its report “Nominal Income 20,000 (U.S.) Dollars, Standard of Living 30,000 Dollars,” that “Korea’s per-capita GDP without considering price levels was 22,778 dollars last year, but its per-capita GDP based on purchasing power amounted to 31,714 dollars.” Thus, the report notes that because of the lower cost of living in Korea compared to other industrial nations, Korea standard of living is on par with the most developed nations in the world.   From my perspective, it seems like the report fails to adequately evaluate the cost of living in Korea. For example, the report fails to adequately equate for the higher cost placed on families for education and  healthcare.   Additionally, some of the price comparisons seem to be based on peculiar data-sets.   For example, the report notes that clothing and shoes cost 10% less than the OECD average, however, a trip to a retail store

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No Court Apprasial Necessary in Korea for In-Kind Contribution to Company

The Presidential Decree of the amended Korea Commercial Code notes that an appraisal by the Korean courts is no longer necessary when issuing equity stocks in exchange for an in-kind contribution in a company if: 1.  The amount of the in-kind contribution is less than KRW 50,000,000 and accounts for less than 20% of the entire equity of the company;2.  The value of the in-kind contribution is less than the book value listed in the balance sheet of the issuing company; and3.  Listed securities are contributed at a price equal to or less than the market price. Other posts on the amended Commercial Code of Korea: Korean Commercial Code Revisions Make Capital Reductions in Korea Easier Classification of Directors in Korea under the Korean Commercial Code: Inside, Outside and Other Directors in Korea Establishing a Company in Korea: New Corporate Forms Available under Revised Korean Code Squeezing-out Minority Shareholders under

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