Executing a foreign court ruling in Korea

These days many companies situated in Korea are interacting and engaging in various agreements with foreign entities. When things go bad, legal disputes often lead to resolution through a court ruling, mediation, arbitration, etc. Then let’s say a foreign company wants to execute 'a court ruling made by the state of California' within Korea. Will this be possible? Is there any specific measure that needs to be taken beforehand? The answer is, if you want to execute a foreign court ruling in Korea you will need a ‘judgment of execution’ from the Korean court. So now let’s take a look at what a ‘judgment of execution’ is and what its requirements are. A ‘judgment of execution’ is a court ruling made by the Korean court indicating that the Korean court acknowledges the ruling at hand and therefore it is suitable for execution under the Korean law. The requirements for a ‘judgment of execution’ are stipulated in the Korean Civil Procedure Act article 217.


According to the Korean Civil Procedure Act article 217, A final and conclusive judgment by a foreign court shall be valid, only upon the entire fulfillment of the following requirements (so in other words, the judgment at hand has to meet “all” the following requirements) 1. That an international jurisdiction of such foreign court is recognized in the principles of an international jurisdiction pursuant to the Acts and subordinate statutes of the Republic of Korea, or to the treaties; 2. That the defeated defendant of the ruling at hand received, pursuant to a lawful method, a service of a summons or a document equivalent thereto, and a notice of date or an order, with a time leeway sufficient to defend (excluding the case pursuant to a service by public notice or similar service), or that he/she responded to the lawsuit even without being served; 3. That such judgment does not violate good morals and other social order of the Republic of Korea; and 4. That there exists a mutual guarantee. Regarding the second and third requirement, it is crucial to check the regulations and laws of both the country where the court ruling was made and Korea. For example, the Korean court once denied a court ruling made by the New York State court that ruled the defendant shall pay the Plaintiff 440,000 USD in punitive damages because under the Korean legal system, ‘punitive damage’ is not recognized. Therefore it violates the Korean legal principle regarding compensation for damages. The court eventually acknowledged only 220,000 USD of the court ruling and so the Plaintiff was able to execute only half of the money it had won at the New York State court. So in order to execute a foreign court ruling in Korea, it is inevitable to file a case within the Korean court requesting a ‘judgment of execution’. If the contents of the court ruling that you wish to execute are clear and simple and have no risk of violating ‘good morals and other social order’ within Korea, then the case mentioned above will be fairly easy and you might not even need to hire a lawyer to go through with the process. However, in some cases, the Korean court may have skeptical views regarding some concepts of a foreign court ruling. So it will be wise to consult a legal expert before going into action.