Squire Patton Boggs has expanded its Seoul office with the addition of transactions partner Stephen Pak—a move that comes at a time when the United States and Korea are renegotiating a free trade agreement.
Pak joins from the Korean law firm Yulchon, where he was a partner advising cross-border mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance deals. In 2015, he represented Korean private equity firm TStone Corp. on a $110 million investment from U.K. asset manager Intermediate Capital Group.
Pak had been a partner with Yulchon since 2011, when he moved to the Korean firm from Sidley Austin. Before that, he spent 12 years with Sidley—first in Los Angeles and, since 2006, in Hong Kong.
Pak is Squire Patton’s third partner in the 5-year-old Seoul office. The other two partners, Joon Yong Kim and Edward Kim, both relocated from Tokyo in 2012 to help legacy Squire Sanders open in Seoul.
The firm was among the first batch of U.S. firms to launch in Korea in 2012 following the enactment of the free trade agreement between the two countries. The deal is currently under renegotiation, and the United States has indicated that it might demand further liberalization of the Korean legal market, according to The Korea Times.
In April, President Donald Trump called the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement a “horrible deal” and threatened to withdraw. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is now negotiating with his Korean counterpart, Kim Hyun-chong, who was until July chief legal officer for Samsung Electronics.
Earlier in October, Squire Patton Boggs also recruited former Hogan Lovells Tokyo corporate head Rika Beppu in Japan.