June 8, 2018
For decades, Paul, Weiss has cultivated vibrant relationships with a variety of Korean clients. Today these representations are an important part of the firm’s successful presence in Asia. With lawyers around the world who are fluent in Korean and familiar with Korean corporate culture, Paul, Weiss helps leading Korean companies navigate a range of complex matters, including corporate transactions and significant litigation and regulatory enforcement and investigations matters. Much of this work is cross-border in scope. A recent alumni dinner in Seoul, hosted by partners Alex Oh and Tong Yu, celebrated the practice’s growth over the years and reunited more than a dozen alumni who have contributed to its success.
Samuel (Soon-Yub) Kwon (PW 1987) is now head of the Telecommunications, Media and Technology practice group at Lee & Ko, a leading Korean law firm. For Samuel, the dinner brought back “fond memories” of his time at Paul, Weiss, where he witnessed the Korea practice’s tremendous growth during the 1990’s. While at the firm, Samuel worked on the investment of Bell Canada International and AIG in Korea’s Hansol PCS in 1998 – a deal that represented the first major foreign direct investment in a Korean company after the Asian financial crisis in late 1997. The deal received front-page coverage from The Wall Street Journal Asia at the time. The deal had a catalyzing effect on his career, Kwon recalls. “Thanks to my work experience at Paul, Weiss as a telecommunications regulatory lawyer, and as an extension of my involvement in the Hansol PCS deal, I was recruited as EVP of the company in 2000, and later became the CEO of Korea’s second- and third-largest broadband carriers in Korea,” he says.
Jay (Young-June) Yang (PW 1985), an attorney at prominent Korean firm Kim & Chang who specializes in intellectual property law, said the dinner brought back such memories as hearing Judge Simon H. Rifkind deliver a speech to first-year associates in 1985. Judge Rifkind spoke about how clients decide among law firms and how associates’ collaboration with partners can lay foundations for future client service relationships. “I have kept this speech in mind for more than 30 years in my legal career,” he says, even delivering a similar speech to junior colleagues.
While at the firm, Jay was inspired to study Japanese in order to converse with his office mate who was a visiting attorney from Japan. “Many of the clients I have now are due to my Japanese language capabilities,” he notes.
Alex Oh, co-chair of the firm’s Anti-Corruption & FCPA Practice Group and a Deputy Managing Partner of the firm’s Washington D.C. office, is a core member of the firm’s Korea practice and one of only a handful of Korean-American litigators in the U.S. who have experience as federal prosecutors and Korean-language fluency. “The dinner was a wonderful opportunity to take stock of the firm’s thriving Korea practice and to bring together the people who have helped make it what it is today,” she says. Tong Yu, a partner in Paul, Weiss’s Tokyo office who was raised in Korea and is likewise central to the practice’s success today, echoed Alex’s sentiments.
Recent examples of the firm’s work in Korea include advising HP in its acquisition of Samsung Electronics’ printer business; Daewoo on several joint ventures; Doosan on multiple large-scale, cross-border acquisitions; Magnachip Semiconductors in connection with an SEC investigation and related securities class actions; and Harvest’s $3.9 billion acquisition by Korea National Oil Corporation. Concurrently, the firm has handled confidential internal investigations and regulatory defense matters for a variety of Korean clients, including preeminent Korean financial institutions. The firm also represents Korean companies in transactions outside of Korea, and has worked extensively as co-counsel with many major Korean law firms on cross-border matters.