Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Media Appearance: "Why a Joint Inter-Korean Railway Survey Matters" on NK News

I am all-in on the peace train! Here's the second part of the two-fer from yesterday:
Although the UNSC includes the United States, the survey obtained the exemption from the sanctions. This exemption from sanctions given by the United States, in its role as a member of the Security Council, does not appear to be accidental. In a working group meeting between U.S. and South Korea, Stephen Biegun, Special Representative for North Korea for the US Department of State, expressed “strong support” for the joint survey. Significantly, Special Representative Biegun was giving his support for the joint survey to his South Korean counterparts precisely at the same time as Secretary Pompeo was delivering his remarks on the need for the denuclearization process to keep pace with the inter-Korean progress. Rather than being displeased with South Korea’s efforts for better relations with North Korea, the United States appears to be quietly backing such efforts, at least as to certain projects.

The fact that US granted sanctions exemptions to the railway project is a big, big, big deal, and I am not sure if most North Korea observers are properly appreciating this point.

Media Appearance: "Hopeful Signs of Progress on Peace with North Korea" on CNN

Folks, I am still trying to get back in gear with updating Case of the Day involving Asian litigants. Turns out the difficulty of  having a newborn in the house rises exponentially when you have two of them! But in the meantime, please enjoy my latest with CNN:
[T]he latest one is a true blockbuster: a joint survey for the Inter-Korean Railway Project. Last week, for the first time in a decade, a South Korean train rolled into North Korea in order to conduct a study on the possibility of connecting North Korea's decrepit railways to South Korea's. If completed, the Inter-Korean Railway Project, estimated to cost approximately $35 billion, will be the largest outside investment into North Korea by a wide margin. When the joint survey was announced, Seoul's stock market soared, with some rail-related companies' shares jumping by over 20% overnight. The fact that the Inter-Korean Railway Project is moving forward is a major departure from North Korea's modus operandi. With the joint survey, North Korea would be revealing the state of its key infrastructure to South Korea -- an unprecedented level of openness.

The Inter-Korean Railway Project truly is a big honking deal. It would be a mistake to look past it just because people are only focused on North Korea's denuclearization.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Media Appearance: "Korean Bar Association Urges Clarity in Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Regulations" on

It's been a hiatus for the blog! My wife and I welcomed our second daughter to the world recently, and the times have been crazy. I managed to squeeze in this interview as I was taking care of the newborn:
Such sparsely regulated “favorable conditions” have lead to some investment fraud, said a Washington, D.C.-based attorney.  
“South Korea’s market is so hot, a lot of fraud and Ponzi schemes are happening at a crazy level,” said Kobre & Kim of counsel Nathan Park. “The government has been looking into protecting systems for regular investors and not necessarily big companies.” 
South Korea’s won is the third-most traded national currency for bitcoins, behind Japan’s yen and the U.S. dollar, according to bitcoin-tracking website Coinhills. Park said fintech is popular in South Korea without government regulations because of the fast speed of innovation in the country, although government oversight and clear laws are needed to protect investors and regulate companies.
Korean Bar Association Urges Clarity in Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Regulations []

South Korea is a very important market for cryptocurrency, and the regulations there will have international implications. All eyes are on the South Korean regulators--particuarly on the Financial Services Commission--who are expected to announce a comprehensive regulatory scheme soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Media Appearance: "Democrats Need More Than Hot Air on North Korea" on Foreign Policy

Here is my latest on Foreign Policy. It's a topic near and dear to my heart, and a very important point for the historical moment in which we find ourselves. The liberal blindness to the North Korea issue--the Number One Foreign Policy Issue of our time--is so proud that, even when liberals self-criticize about their lack of a foreign policy agenda, they forget to mention North Korea. This must not continue.

A short sample of the three liberal foreign policy principles I offer as to North Korea:
Finally, as the party of diplomacy, Democrats should support efforts to open dialogue with North Korea. There is legitimate discomfort that Trump’s blustery style of negotiation may cause more harm than good. This discomfort often leads liberals to criticize Trump as a friend of dictators as Sanders did, or ridicule him as being played by Kim, as Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley did this summer while dismissing the progress in the U.S.-North Korea talks. But liberals must resist the urge. While skilled diplomacy would be preferable to Trump’s ramblings, his bumbling approach is the only kind available at this moment, and it is still better than a nuclear war.

As an antidote to Trump’s gracelessness, the Democrats can put their support behind South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, who has been a crucial mediator between United States and North Korea throughout the past year. When Trump impetuously canceled the U.S.-North Korea summit in May, Moon quickly crossed the DMZ to hold a surprise second summit meeting with Kim, which eventually pushed Trump to revive his summit with Kim in the following month in Singapore. The denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United States stalled after the Singapore meeting, but in the third recent inter-Korean summit last month, Moon once again drew out enough commitment from Kim for the U.S.-North Korea dialogue to continue. Time and again, Moon has been the stabilizing presence in these negotiations; U.S. liberals must recognize an ally in South Korea’s liberal president and give him all the support available.

If you are a liberal who cares about foreign policy even a little bit, I respectfully ask you take a look at this article and continue to think about this issue.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Case of the Day: Khaja v. Husna, 2018 N.C. App. LEXIS 836 (N.C. App. Ct. Aug. 21, 2018)


Husband and wife married in India in 2007 and separated in 2008 while living in the US. In 2011, the husband filed for divorce in the US and won alimony from the wife. The wife appealed, claiming the court had no subject matter jurisdiction as the lower court should have recognized the annulment the wife obtained in India a month after the husband filed the US action.

The appellate court rejected the argument. The court found the lower court correctly found the parties were not domiciled in India at the time of the annulment, as the husband was residing in New Jersey and the wife was residing in North Carolina.


Interesting attempt for a collateral attack, which is fairly common family law but does not get enough attention. Also interesting that the North Carolina state court applied the Full Faith and Credit clause test to a foreign order, although as a formal matter there is no reason for the Full Faith and Credit clause would apply to a foreign state (as opposed to one of the United States.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Case of the Day: En Pointe Techs. Sales, LLC v. Ovex Techs. (Private) Ltd., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141065 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 17, 2018)


Plaintiff En Pointe is a Delaware corporation operating in California. Defendant Ovex is a Pakistani corporation operating in Islamabad, which previously contracted to provide service to plaintiff. The service agreement provided that dispute in relation to the contract is to be resolved through a JAMS arbitration in California. A dispute arose, and Ovex sued En Pointe in Pakistan. En Pointe filed the JAMS arbitration, and also petitioned the District Court to issue an anti-suit injunction, which the court granted. Ovex did not appear for either the injunction hearing or the JAMS arbitration; instead, Ovex's sole shareholder filed additional suits against En Pointe and its officers in Pakistan, and sought to hold En Pointe in contempt in Pakistian. Plaintiff then moved to hold the defendant in contempt in the District Court.

The court granted the contempt motion. Finding the defendant in violation of the anti-suit injunction, the court issued a fine of $1,000 per day for each day the defendant failed to comply with the injunction, and awarded attorneys' fees for En Pointe.


Fireworks! Rarely do you see such a head-to-head fight between the courts of two countries. It does not appear to be a good way out of this conflict other than to some type of business arrangement.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Case of the Day: Li v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137558 (D.N.J. Aug. 14, 2018)


Plaintiff is the head of a Chinese TV station's US division who sought to begin the TV station's North American branch. The plaintiff came to the US on an L-1A visa (i.e. visa for foreign employees of a multinational firm), which was approved in May 2013 for eight months stay. Because the plaintiff needed more than eight months to do her work, she applied for an extension. The approval did not come until February 2015, and the extension only lasted until May 2015. Because this extension was not long enough, the TV station filed an I-485 application. The USCIS denied the applications, on the grounds that the plaintiff did not maintain continuous employment authorization from 2015 (because she did not have the L-1A visa.) Plaintiff sued USCIS. The USCIS moved to dismiss, claiming lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The court denied the motion to dismiss. While the parties agreed that the Immigration and Naturalization Act divested the court's jurisdiction for an action based on the I-485 application decision, the court found the INA did not divest jurisdiction for an action based on the L-1A visa decision, as the visa is a non-immigration visa.


It is good to see the court asserting jurisdiction over this absurd case. USCIS always has been a ridiculous bureaucracy and the court has deferred to it too often. In this instance, USCIS made the maximalist argument that it "may" grant an extension of up to two years, which the judge slapped down as it "defies common sense as an argument in this situation."