In April 2013, attorney Mr. Wonil Chung successfully obtained a Supreme Court’s ruling which overturned lower court’s decision in connection with the sponsored links, Internet keyword advertising services, operated by Overture Services Inc., a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Yahoo! Inc. Before this ruling from the Supreme Court of South Korea, there had been an increased controversy over whether Overture system user’s deployment of an automated program to access to the sponsored links could fall into a crime causing a harm to the Internet network system. In this case, attorney Mr. Chung argued before the Supreme Court of South Korea that it cannot constitute a statutory crime, otherwise the result would be an over-reaching of Korean criminal statute and cause an excessive chilling effect on the free access to the Internet. Responding to Mr. Chung’s arguments, the Supreme Court of South Korea held that it does not constitute a statutory crime of interference with stable operation of the Internet network. With its ruling, the Court struck down the prosecutor’s attempt of excessive criminalization and reinforced online service user’s right of free and unrestricted access to the Continue reading
Let’s assume you file an action for a money judgment in the US court or any jurisdiction other than South Korea, and the defendant has significant assets located in South Korea. In that case, you might need to consider putting a provisional attachment on those assets in order to prevent the defendant from hiding or liquidating the assets to render the judgement ineffectual. Then this situation entails the following question: can a plaintiff in a foreign proceeding apply for a provisional attachment to the Korean court, while pursuing the proceeding in the merit in foreign jurisdiction?
The answer is yes. The Korean court grants and issues a provisional attachment order per the foreign creditor’s application in support of proceedings which have been or are to be commenced in a place outside of South Korea. It does not require the substantive proceedings are to be connected to South Korea. Further, it does not require the defendant to be the resident of South Korea. It just suffices only if the assets are located in South Korea. That said, for example, the US creditor pursuing an action in New York may apply to the court of South Korea for a freezing order on defendant’s bank account in Korean banks to restraint the defendant from dealing with, or disposing of, the funds.
In this regard, There was a case in Korean court where the provisional attachment order against the Korean stocks was issued by the Seoul Family Court as the security for a judgment soon to be obtained in the court of Virginia, USA. The defendant in the US proceeding, which was a divorce case where the plaintiff seek $6,700,000USD for her share of property division, filed an objection Continue reading
Q) I filed for divorce in Ontario, Canada. My husband lived in Canada and he was duly served with the court’s documents. I will have a final divorce ruling from the Canadian court including child support and alimony order soon. But the issue is he will probably leave Canada and head to South Korea after the ruling is issued. Will the Korean Courts recognize the Canadian court order in order to enforce his performance of child support and alimony payment?
A) There is a case where the Korean Supreme Court recognized and approved the Canadian court’s divorce/asset distribution/child support/alimony order. That order was issued from the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario.
As a matter of law, Korean court recognizes foreign court’s divorce ruling so far as (i) the foreign court has a jurisdiction over the case in perspective of Korean law, (ii) the defendant was duly served, (iii) the ruling of the foreign court does not violate the social order of South Korea and (iv) there exists a mutual guaranty for recognition of rulings between the two jurisdictions. For the last element, the Korean Supreme Court held that South Korea and Ontario have a mutual guaranty. What is more important here is that the Supreme Court recognized the foreign court’s alimony order. Under Korean divorce law, there is no legal concept of alimony in divorce. Therefore, some may argue that as the alimony is not the legal right established in Korea, recognizing the foreign court’s alimony ruling in Korea would violate the social order of South Korea. But, Continue reading
It was reported that last month Apple’s South Korean office paid $945 of compensation to one of South Korean iPhone users for the breaching of privacy by the controversial iPhone user location tracking. Here is the detail from Reuters.
By the way, some news media reported that this was a ruling from a Korean district court. I, as a Korean lawyer, think that statement is half right and half wrong. Basically it is true that the court issued a ruling which ordered the Apple Korea to pay $945 to the user. But this was not a formal trial case, but a Request for a Payment Order case. Payment order is a more convenient & simplified legal procedure for claimant to get a judgment from the court compared to a formal lawsuit. Once a request filed, the Korean court does not question the debtor (in this case, the Apple Korea) and issue a Payment Order within 2 or 4 weeks (in certain courts, within a few days). This payment order, a sort of ruling, asks the opposing party to choose whether to admit the claim as written on the request or to make an objection. If no objection has been raised from the opposing party within 2 weeks, then Continue reading
We’ve been asked about a criminal charge against an adultery under Korean criminal law quite often. Foreign employees in Korean should be cautious that adultery is a crime under Korean law. Here is a real example of such a case where a foreign officer committed an adultery and the company(employer)’s legal concern made them ask for some legal consultation to our law firm regarding the adultery law and criminal law process in Korea.
Q) Mr. XX, who is a head director of our company, committed an adultery and was charged by the Korean prosecutor. He has confessed his guilty and the prosecutor demanded one year’s imprisonment for his crime to the court. If the court finalizes that Mr. XX is guilty, does that mean Mr. XX will be imprisonment for one year or lesser?
A) Finding guilty does not always mean Mr. XX will be imprisoned. The Court may SUSPEND the imprisonment for certain years even though Mr. XX is guilty. The Korean Criminal Act provides that a married person who commits adultery shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years. However, the Act also provides the execution of the sentence for an adultery can be Continue reading
Recently, Mr. Wonil Chung, a partner at Chung & Partners, has successfully represented NHS, Inc., an internationally renowned U.S. company which sells skateboards, apparel under various trademarked brand worldwide, in policing their trademark in South Korea. NHS, Inc. and its Korean distributor had found that counterfeits of SantaCruz, one of the NHS, Inc.’s premium brand, had been made and sold in numerous online shopping mall sites in Korea. They requested Mr. Wonil Chung to stop them from selling the counterfeits. Mr. Wonil Chung sent cease and desist letters to the online shopping sites which sold the counterfeits, notifying Continue reading
We’ve been asked about this issue from U.S. lawyers or U.S. law school students quite often. As reported earlier this month, the Foreign Legal Consultant Act was approved by the National Assembly. The Act allows law firms from the United States and countries which have free trade agreements with Korea to set up local branches to provide legal consulting services.
However, in order to qualify as local consultants, foreign firms will not be allowed to hire locally qualified lawyers. Foreign lawyers cannot be self-employed consultants, Continue reading
Recently there are so many lawsuits being filed against domestic and foreign banks in Korea with regard to the bank’s irresponsible fund sale. The Korean fund buyers are alleging the losses in the funds which are still on-going were caused by the fund-sellers’ not informing sufficient information on the risk and possibilities of losses when they put the money to the funds.
As a matter of law, Korean court has ruled that the banks have legal duties to inform the customer sufficiently of the structure of the investment such as fund or option transaction and the risk of possible losses when they solicit the customers for investments. If they neglect that obligation, it constitutes a breach of contract and Continue reading
Last September, Supreme Porsecutors Office(SPO) investigated the ex-head of Military Mutual Aid Association(MMAA) and his son as they had received 30,000 stocks of Kenertec, a Korean Energy company, from its representative in response to securing investments from the MMAA.
Mr. Wonil Chung, a partner of Chung & Partners, represented the son and succeeded in making the SPO drop the charge and not prosecuting him.
Afterward, the SPO prosecuted only the ex-head of MMAA to the court, but last Friday, Seoul Central District Court sentenced not guilty stating there is no evidence that supports there had happened any illegal activities.
Under Korean Criminal Law, a person who, administering other’s business, receives property or obtains advantage from a 3rd party in response to an illegal solicitation concerning his duty, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 5 yeard or by a fine not exceeding 10 million won.
Established in 1984 as a special organization under the Ministry of National Defense, the MMAA administers assistance for military personnel and veterans. It has 160,000 members and its assets are valued at 7.8 trillion won ($5.94 billion). The organization has seven businesses and recorded a total profit of 153.7 billion won last year.
This case had drawn big attentions within Korean society because of the MMAA’s powerful position in Korea’s financing & investment market and new government and SPO’s attempt to scrape out public enterprises’ corruption. But at least in this case, Continue reading
In January 31, the Seoul Central District Court ordered the Samsung Group to repay more than 2.33 trillion won ($2.46 billion) to the 14 creditors of its defunct Samsung Motors, which was the country’s biggest-ever financial civil lawsuit. Samsung Group said yesterday that it will appeal that court ruling.
Samsung Motors applied for a court-administered debt restructuring program in June 1999, and Chairman Lee Kun Hee announced his plan to inject private money. Two months later, Samsung signed a deal with the creditors to cover a 2.45 trillion won debt by the end of 2000. Under the agreement, Lee handed over his 3.5 million shares of the unlisted Samsung Life Insurance Co. to the creditors and promised to list the company. However the insurance firm never went public, and creditors were unable to convert all their share to cash due to the large volume. Creditors filed a lawsuit in December 2005, claiming 5 trillion won including penalties.
One of the biggest issues on this trial was the validity of the agreement between Samsung Group and the creditors. Samsung Group alleged that the agreement is void because it was entered under duress. However the court rejected it.
As I’m a lawyer, it was very interesting who would represent Samsung Group and the creditors. There Continue reading