Washington International Law Journal


Hyung Tae Kim


South Korea’s World Trade Organization membership requires the “Land of the Morning Calm” to liberalize its legal market. South Korea submitted its proposal for liberalization in the spring of 2003 and planned to begin opening its legal market in 2005. However, disagreements between South Korea and other World Trade Organization members over the scope of liberalization have led to a one-year negotiation period extension, pushing back the planned market opening to early 2007. The Korean Bar Association has strongly opposed liberalization, claiming that liberalization will lead to the foreign domination of South Korea’s legal market. On the other hand, most South Korean and foreign businesses, as well as foreign lawyers, have suggested that such concerns are exaggerated and that the benefits from liberalization will far outweigh its harms. Indeed, legal market liberalization will not only benefit businesses and lawyers by improving legal services quality and lowering legal costs, but it will also promote South Korea’s rise as an important financial hub in East Asia. This Comment asserts that despite the potential benefits, liberalization can only be successful if South Korea simultaneously implements proper legislative revisions, reforms enforcement and oversight mechanisms, and promotes domestic firm expansion and educational reform.

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