BKL was honored with “South Korea Firm of the Year” at the Women in Business Law APAC Awards 2022, in recognition of the firm’s women-friendly welfare system, including ▲ adjustment of commuting hours during pregnancy, ▲ reduction of working hours for pregnant women, and ▲ operation of a resting space exclusively for women. In addition, BKL has implemented the mentoring program and regularly holds the Women Professionals Forum to strengthen networking among women professionals and enhance their competitiveness. Jurisdiction awards recognize law firms that are outstanding role models in promoting initiatives and programs to support and encourage women and diversity within the industry.
On top of the firm’s accolade, BKL won the most awards among the Korean firms with three lawyers awarded prizes in their respective fields of practice.
Antitrust & Competition lawyer of the Year - HyunA Kim
Information Communications Technology Lawyer of the Year - Jiyeon Park
Arbitration Rising Star - Hangil Lee.
Euromoney, a global financial magazine, has been hosting the awards ceremony for law firms and women experts across Asia since 2011. The awards recognize the outstanding achievements of leading female lawyers in each field and honor law firms for their contribution to the promotion of women's rights and interests and development of women's capabilities across the world.
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In 2023, major drug pricing policy changes are expected to be made to reinforce the reimbursement coverage of innovative drugs and the drug prices follow-up management system. BKL Healthcare Team reviewed the relevant policy trends and changes in laws and regulations and analyzed the considerations for pharmaceutical companies. Below is a summary of the latest major changes and developments in this field.
On February 16, 2023, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) announced its Enforcement System Reform Plan (“Enforcement Plan”) to enhance predictability in the KFTC’s investigation, ensure target subjects’ rights, and improve case management through amending its Investigation Procedure Rules and the Case Management Procedure Rules during the first half of 2023.
On February 27, 2023, the National Assembly passed proposed partial amendments to the Game Industry Promotion Act, which, inter alia, introduces a new set of clarifications and obligations concerning probability-based Random Items (defined below) (the “Amended GIPA”). The Amended GIPA is expected to take effect as early as the first half of the next year after a grace period of one year.
On 7 February 2023, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (the “MOEF”) announced the “Foreign Exchange Market Structure Improvement Plan” (the “Plan”) which aims to transform the existing foreign exchange market structure into a more liberal and competitive market. This is the first meaningful announcement in the FX area in over 20 years. The proposed regulatory changes are expected to improve foreign investors’ accessibility to the domestic foreign exchange market and present more opportunities for foreign financial institutions to participate in the foreign exchange market.
Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) as amended includes new rights of data portability and a right to refuse automated decision-making.
On December 23, 2022, proposed amendments to Korean tax laws for 2022 were finally adopted and implemented by the National Assembly (“Tax Reform”). As a follow-up measure, on January 18, 2023, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Korea announced proposed amendments to the enforcement decree of Korean tax laws for 2022 (“Proposal”). The Proposal is expected to be promulgated in February 2023.
On January 13, 2023, the Seoul Administrative Court dismissed an appeal filed by SkyPeople Corporation (“SkyPeople”), which sought to cancel the Game Rating and Administration Committee’s (“GRAC”) decision not to rate its blockchain-based, play-to-earn (P2E) game entitled “Five Stars for Klaytn” (the “Game”).
On January 25, 2023, the Financial Services Commission (the “FSC”) released its proposed measures to significantly improve foreign investors’ access to Korean capital markets (the “Release”). More specifically, the proposed measures include the following key takeaways:
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (the “KFTC”) recently established a new division dedicated to reviewing merger cases involving foreign parties (“Foreign Mergers”), and is continuing to make various systematic reorganization efforts to effectively respond to the increasing need for more efficient merger reviews. In 2021, the KFTC reviewed approximately 1,100 merger cases, experiencing about a 150% increase compared to 2018. Korea’s current merger review system and the limited number of case handlers (eight in total), made it difficult to provide timely support for the innovative growth of the companies and effectively respond to large-scale Foreign Mergers. As a result, the KFTC expects to implement various systematic changes as follows:
A Korean pharmaceutical company (“Company”) agreed to receive a certain percentage of its annual purchase quantity as “free samples” when importing raw materials for pharmaceuticals from overseas suppliers. According to the above agreement, the customs authority issued a challenge that the goods, which were imported by the Company without making a separate payment relevant to the price of goods, fall under Article 31 (transaction value of goods of the same kind or quality) of the Korean Customs Duty Act (“KCDA”) as opposed to Article 30 (transaction value) of the KCDA. Based on such finding, the transaction value of the goods was rejected and customs duties assessed based on the transaction value of similar goods previously imported for a fee.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (the “KFTC”) recently announced proposed amendments to the KFTC’s Review Standard for Business Combination (“M&A Review Standard”) and Guidelines for Reporting Business Combinations (“M&A Notification Guidelines”), as well as the KFTC’s plans to establish a new Global M&A Division in response to the growing number of global M&As. The current proposed changes are the result of efforts by the KFTC’s Task Force on Merger Control Regime Reform, which sought public opinion as well as holding discussions with market participants and academics on the issue from June 2022, to properly reflect and respond to the changes in the recent global M&A trends and the economic environment.
On October 14, 2022, a proposal (“Proposal”) was announced for purposes of introducing a special tax regime applicable to foreign flow-through entities for Korean tax purposes. The primary legislative intent of the Proposal is to allow Korean investors to make investments into foreign jurisdictions primarily through foreign private equity (PE) funds without facing additional adverse tax implications in foreign jurisdictions resulting from making such investments via foreign corporations or investment vehicles that are deemed as reverse hybrid entities.
It is essential for international securities companies and offshore investors to review your own records for any known or unknown potential violations. Please contact us to discuss your particular facts. Please note that, in addition to naked short selling, certain covered short selling may be in violation of the Korean regulations.
On September 16, 2022, Ki-jeong Han, a professor at Seoul National University (“SNU”) School of Law, was appointed as the next Chairperson of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) by President Yoon Suk-yeol. With the appointment of the new KFTC Chairperson four months into President Yoon’s administration, the new administration’s policy goals regarding Korean competition law enforcement are expected to be actively implemented.
Fines totaling KRW 100 billion, together with corrective orders, handed down by Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) on September 14, 2022
On July 21, 2022, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) released its proposed amendments to the Korean tax laws for 2022. The key policy initiatives announced in the proposals are aimed at: (i) stimulating the economy through reasonable modifications to the tax law; (ii) stabilizing citizens’ livelihoods by reducing tax burdens; (iii) strengthening the tax system by improving fiscal sustainability and tax fairness; and (iv) creating a taxpayer-friendly environment by increasing taxpayer convenience. The MOEF projects that the tax revenue will drop by approximately KRW 13.1 trillion over the next five years as a result of the revisions. Revenue from income taxes and corporate taxes are expected to decrease by KRW 2.5 trillion and KRW 6.8 trillion respectively, accounting for 71% of the total decrease in revenue anticipated from the tax reforms. If the proposals are approved at the National Assembly, the amendments will become effective as of January 1, 2023.
The proposed comprehensive amendment to the Private International Law (the “amended PIL”) was approved by the plenary session of the National Assembly on December 9, 2021 and is effective from July 5, 2022. As a result of this comprehensive amendment, the amended PIL has 35 new provisions relating to international jurisdiction in the general provisions and the respective provisions, providing detailed rules compared to the previous PIL which provided only a single article setting out the principle. Seven provisions out of the existing 62 provisions have been amended as well. Due to the amendment, enhanced prediction regarding international jurisdiction has become possible, and a new system is now in place to ensure propriety in specific cases relating to international jurisdiction.