Paul S Rhee

Profession

Partner, Antitrust and Competition Practice Group at Yoon & Yang LLC

Biography

Paul S. Rhee is a senior foreign attorney (partner) in the highly-ranked and award-winning Antitrust and Competition Practice Group at Yoon & Yang LLC in Seoul, Korea, which has been designated since 2008 as an ‘ELITE’ competition practice in Korea by Global Competition Review (GCR) with listing as a GCR 100 law firm and won the GCR Awards 2018 for “Regional Firm of the Year: Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa” and the In-House Community Asian-Mena Counsel Firm of the Year 2018. He has been practicing in Korea for over 20 years, advising multinational corporations on all aspects of their Korean business. Besides regularly advising on corporate and M&A matters, his practice primarily focuses on antitrust matters involving interface between antitrust law and intellectual property rights, corporate leniency program, merger clearance, criminal prosecution, private damage claims, administrative appeals, internal audits/investigations and compliance/training. He has extensive experience representing leading multinational corporations in Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) investigations concerning abuse of dominance, unfair trade practice (including subcontracting), false advertising, merger review and domestic and international cartels in various industries. Also, he has developed a specialty in M&A matters involving significant antitrust issues or KFTC investigations. In 2019, Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific noted that “[he] has considerable experience representing multinational clients in KFTC investigations as part of his broader competition and antitrust practice” and quoted a client’s comment that "[h]e really cares about providing the best legal service while keeping us promptly informed of all developments in our case”.

From 2017 to 2018, Paul led his team in successfully representing United Technologies Corporation in the KFTC’s merger investigation into its acquisition of Rockwell Collins, which resulted in KFTC’s unconditional approval and was honored with the GCR Awards 2019 for “Merger control matter of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa”.  From 2016 to 2017, in addition to advising on Korean aspects of the transaction, Paul led his team in successfully representing Performance Optics and its subsidiaries, Vision Ease in U.S. and Daemyung Optical in Korea, in the KFTC’s merger review investigation into its sale to HOYA Corporation by persuasively arguing a novel product market definition (establishing that high- and low-end ophthalmic lenses served different segments of the market) despite high market share and strong objection by stakeholders such as the Korean Optometric Association, which resulted in KFTC’s unconditional approval and for which Paul and the matter were both commended in the Financial Times’ FT Asia Pacific Innovative Lawyer Award/Report 2018 for “Legal Expertise: Enabling business growth” while the matter was noted in the GCR Awards 2018 for “Regional Firm of the Year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa” when the firm won such award.  From 2013 to 2015, in addition to advising on Korean aspects of the transaction, he led his team in successfully representing Microsoft Corporation in the KFTC’s merger review investigation into its acquisition of Nokia Corporation’s mobile device and service business despite strong objection by stakeholders such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, which resulted in the first consent decree in a merger review case in Korea and was honored with the GCR Awards 2016 for “Merger control matter of the year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa”.

From 2013 to 2017, Paul led his team in successfully representing a leading multinational crawler/track and conveyor belt manufacturer in the KFTC’s cartel investigation by persuasively arguing market definition based on types of customers, which resulted in full immunity and amnesty plus benefits without any administrative surcharge or criminal prosecution and was noted in the GCR Awards 2018 for “Regional Firm of the Year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa” when the firm won such award (presently, representing same client in a follow-on damage action filed by five state-owned power plant companies).  From 2005 to 2016, he led his team in successfully representing a leading multinational elevator manufacturer in the KFTC’s cartel investigation by persuasively arguing market definition based on types of customers, which resulted in partial immunity, amnesty plus benefits and substantial reduction in administrative surcharge, and in a follow-on damage action filed by the state-owned Korea Land & Housing Corporation in trial and appellate courts and the Korean Supreme Court, which was noted in the GCR Awards 2017 for “Regional Firm of the Year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa” when the firm was shortlisted for such award.

In 2015, 2017 and 2018, Paul was the exclusive winner of the Global Business Media Group’s International Law Office/Lexology Client Choice Award in the category of Competition & Antitrust for South Korea based on a worldwide survey of senior corporate counsels from a pool of more than 2,000 individual client assessments. He has also been recognized as a leading or noted antitrust practitioner by Chambers and Partners Asia-Pacific, Financial Times’ FT Asia Pacific Innovative Lawyer Award/Report 2018, Euromoney/Legal Media Group’s Guide to the World’s Leading Competition and Antitrust Experts, International Legal Media’s Competition Law Experts, IFLR’s Leading Competition Lawyers, IFLR 1000 Asia Pacific, PLC Which Lawyer?, Euromoney Legal Media Group's AsiaLaw Leading Lawyers and Legal 500 Asia Pacific.  For instance, in the Legal 500 Asia Pacific, he has been repeatedly commended for his antitrust expertise over many years while being praised for his ‘approach to engaging with the KFTC’ and singled out as ‘very knowledgeable and sensitive to clients’ concerns,’ ‘very knowledgeable in this practice area for which his services have been retained,’ a ‘leading figure,’ an ‘excellent lawyer’, and for ‘his knowledge of Korea's corporate leniency programme and its impact on private litigation’. In the Global Business Media Group’s International Law Office/Lexology Client Choice Award, his clients have commented that ‘Paul has vast experience in the aggressive and unpredictable antitrust regulatory environment in South Korea,’ ‘Paul is very hands on; he strives to obtain the best results for his clients while managing expectations very well,’ ‘Paul is incredibly intelligent and extremely knowledgeable in competition and antitrust law,’ and ‘he is able to find creative solutions that successfully and timely close deals.’

As Vice-Chairman of the Legal Services Committee of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea from 2006 to 2012, Paul met with European Commission officials in Brussels and Seoul and played a substantive role in lobbying them in connection with the European Union - Korea Free Trade Agreement that took effect in July 2011 and the liberalization of the Korean legal services market.  On behalf of European Union-based international law firms and multinational corporations, he provided critical advice to the Korean government on the first-ever legislation regulating the establishment and operation of foreign law firms in Korea (the Foreign Legal Consultants Act).  In 2007, he successfully worked with the ad hoc Merger Streamlining Group (whose membership comprised of antitrust practitioners at leading multinational corporations and major international law firms with a common interest in promoting international best practices in merger control as provided for in the Recommended Practices of the International Competition Network) and the American and European Union Chambers of Commerce in Korea and its member companies to substantially increase the local nexus threshold requirement for Korean merger notification in mergers between foreign companies from KRW 3 Billion to KRW 20 Billion.

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Areas of Practice

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Education

University of California, Berkeley: BA, 1991
Syracuse University School of Law: JD, 1996

Memberships

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Section of Antitrust and Consumer Law, District of Columbia Bar Association
Section of Antitrust and Trade Regulation, Connecticut Bar Association
Section of Antitrust Law, American Bar Association
International Association of Korean Lawyers.

Qualification

Connecticut Bar (USA)
District of Columbia Bar (USA)