Two more U.S. firms have announced plans to open offices in Korea.

Paul Hastings and Ropes & Gray both said they today submitted applications to the Ministry of Justice of Korea to launch foreign legal consultant offices in Seoul.

Previously barred from having a presence in Korea, U.S. law firms were permitted to open there by the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement ratified late last year. Several other U.S. firms have also previously announced plans to open offices in Korea, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and McDermott Will & Emery.

A similar FTA between Korea and the European Union has also opened the market to U.K. firms like Clifford Chance, which announced plans for an office in February.

Paul Hastings, which has long expressed an interest in opening in Seoul, will relocate Korea practice head Jong Han Kim and partner Daniel Kim from Hong Kong to man the new office. The firm says it plans to ultimately hire up to 20 lawyers for the office, which will advise on inbound and outbound investment. Ropes & Gray’s new office will focus on corporate, intellectual property, and regulatory work.

Paul Hastings’ Jong Han Kim has advised clients including wireless communication services provider SK Telecom Co. Ltd., Korean Airlines Co. Ltd., department store operator Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on Korea-related transactions. Daniel Kim is a veteran of several cross-border merger deals; last year, he advised Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on a $1.4 billion sale of its hard disk drive unit to computer storage equipment manufacturer Seagate Technology PLC.

Ropes & Gray Korea practice chair William Kim and partner David Chun will relocate from New York to Seoul to lead the new office. The firm’s Korean clients include LG Electronics, Inc.; Daewoo International Corp.; and Hyundai Motor Co.

Kim advises on cross-border corporate transactions, financing, and licensing matters. Prior to joining Ropes & Gray in 2006, he was a partner in the New York office of Atlanta’s Alston & Bird. He was also general counsel and managing director for Korean conglomerate Daewoo Group from 1993 to 1997. Chun is an IP litigator who acts on patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation cases.

Email: jseah@alm.com