Hi-Taek Shin and Liz (Kyo-Hwa) Chung

Korea’s network of international investment agreements (IIAs), comprising 94 BITs and nine FTAs with investment chapters, demonstrates that attracting foreign investment to Korea and protecting Korean investors overseas has been an important policy aspect. However, little attention was paid to these agreements until 2006 when negotiations for the Korea-United States (KORUS) FTA began. These negotiations sparked public criticism and heated debates of investor-State dispute settlement. Whereas Korea had routinely accepted the IIA provisions presented by developed counter-parties and used them as a template when negotiating with developing economies in the past, Korean IIA practice changed substantially following the KORUS FTA. In the face of heightened public scrutiny, Korea began to critically review key features of its IIAs and developed its own position on some important issues. This article examines these developments, considering that Korea will play a key role in shaping international investment law in the future, particularly in Asia.