Ashurst has moved a step closer to launching in Korea after hiring partner John Kim from Korean firm Yulchon.
Kim, who headed the firm’s outbound practice, will be based in Ashurst’s Hong Kong office.
Prior to joining Yulchon, he practised at Kim & Chang in Korea for many years following his work experience in Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York.
Ashurst Asia managing partner Matthew Bubb said the firm was continuing to build its Korean-focused expertise through targeting clients in the jurisdiction.
The firm said last June that it planned to apply for licence to launch in South Korea, while also applying for a second mainland office in China in a bid to underline growth in Asia (8 June 2012).
The Korea application process was later pushed down the agenda as the firm looked to build it’s newly launched Beijing office for which it was granted a licence in March (20 March 2013).
Bubb said the firm still hadn’t lodged the application but, he added, “we’re keeping it on the radar”.
He continued: “There’s a lot of work coming out of Korea, largely still outbound work, and Korean companies are very important clients to us. We are confident at the moment that we can support their outbound needs by having the right partners in the right place.
“We’re also waiting to see how some of the early movers make out as there has been a rush into the market in the first year [following its liberalisation]. We are keeping a watching brief.”
Ashurst’s Australian arm has traditionally worked for a number of large Korean companies on investments into Australia’s energy and resources sectors, including KEPCO and KOGAS.
In May, Ashurst’s London-based real estate team led by partner David Jones advised Samsung SRA Asset Management on its acquisition of London’s 30 Crown Place, the London based of Pinsent Masons, for £142m.