Frequently Asked Questions
Straight Questions ... Straight Answers

Is HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES an arm or organ of the North Korean Government ?

Absolutely not.

Is HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES an arm or organ of any government ?

Absolutely not.

HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES is a private business.  It is run like any other business, for profit.   It makes no political donations.  It receives no funding, direct or indirect, from any government, public body or their representatives.  And it most certainly would refuse any such support, if it were offered. 

Its political independence on the one hand, and on the other, its dependence upon pure business and market principles for its viability as a company, lie among its key strengths. 

How large is HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES ?

  HK&A is by choice a lean, small (by international, but not DPRK, standards) practise. We have a pool of around a dozen lawyers, all supported by paralegals and office staff, in addition to outside counsel based in the nation's top law school, whenever specialized opinions are needed.

Indeed, the critical need to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive client information was one of the several factors behind the creation of HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES in the first place.  Another reason is that when you hire HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES, you are getting the undivided attention of the people with long-term, hands-on, direct experience, over many different periods, of dealing with the DPRK. And for this reason -- by the very nature of the cultural, linguistic and other diffierences between the DPRK and other countries, and also Michael Hay's 20 year experience of Korea, Principal Hay, together with this DPRK co-principal, signs off on all projects -- as a matter of both protocol and necessity if advice rendered to clients is to mean anything.  

HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES believes its reputation stands and falls on quality not quantity -- and has seen the consequences of "overtrading" in all types of industry, including the service industry.  At any given time, fewer than ten key projects are normally being handled.  By choice.

Do you have negotiating experience with North Korea ?

Yes.  Thousands of hours.  Bear in mind, though that "success" in dealing with North Koreans does not rest simply on negotiations.  Much more lies behind that.

Can you negotiate in the Korean language ?

Yes - and often do.  Bear in mind, though, that that is not always appropriate or desirable, for a number of reasons, to negotiate in Korean -- a matter beyond the scope of this website and more appropriate for briefings.  Yet again, on other occasions, it can be extremely helpful, can be preferable and can strengthen the chances of reaching a successful conclusion to the 'deal'.

Can HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES take on a large project ?

Most certainly.  This goes to the fundamentals of what HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES is, what it offers,  and what is does not. 

Take telecoms, for example (currently one of the hottest areas in the DPRK, along with IT in general -- software, especially).   If you are thinking about hiring HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES because your company wishes to investigate potential in that field (and there is plenty) or actually work on a telecoms project in the DPRK, HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES does not try, claim or purport to become an instant expert in, say, VoIP or mobile telecommunications networks (key areas).  Equally, though, a thorough understanding of the client's activities, products, services and needs is essential.  Therein lies the importance of thorough briefing before entering the DPRK. 

However, in the negotiating room, neither Michael Hay nor any of his colleagues for one minute purport to supplant or otherwise play the key role of your own technical engineers.  The ideal scenario is to have both managerial and technical personnel in the room.  Not necessarily on the first visit, but depending on your needs, that could well be the most efficient way to do things.

One exception (which can save costs) to having a "full-team upfront" from the client's side is to send a managerial-level individual with sufficient grasp of the company's products and services to be able to enter into, for example, a Memorandum of Understanding -- which can often be culturally very, very important in the DPRK -- that can lay the foundation for a more detailed contract later. This equally can set the stage early on for the deal by firming up the relationship with the relevant DPRK governmental counterparts.  Again, relationship-building is the key.

In summary, the undertaking of a major project depends upon the symbiosis and close working relationship between the client and HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES, and how their respective assets, skills and personnel fit together.

Is HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES a substitute for our company's in-house counsel or our outside law firm ?

Again, usually no.  For much the same reasons as above.  HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES has extensive legal experience and Michael Hay is currently deeply involved in legal/legislative-related work in the DPRK.  However, for clients, the nuts-and-bolts drafting of contracts is best left, for a whole host of reasons, to the client's lawyers -- efficiency and cost-control being one of these reasons.  If the presence of a lawyer were the key to your success in the DPRK, you would not need HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES or any other consultant.

Having said that, HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES has extensive knowledge of the negotiating and drafting of international business contracts.  Many -- sometimes for better, sometimes for worse -- are drafted without legal counsel.    Ideally you would, at the right time, have outside lawyers or in-house counsel at hand, either in the DPRK or at the end of a fax machine - or better still, e-mail..

One word of warning, however.  You may already have experienceed this. Overlawyering can kill a deal.  There is no single rule.  HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES can advise, depending on the specific project, on 'how high to aim' and what kind of agreement you are likely to be able to come away with. HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES can offer considerable assistance in the contractual area, with or without the presence of your lawyers.

So what then does HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES offer at the end of the day ?

HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES is the catalyst that brings 'it', the 'parties', the deal all together. 

In addition, for the full range of services beyond the negotiating table, please refer to the menu item entitled Services Overview or to any of the sub-items in the menu on each page of this website.

Will HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES arrange for me or my company to go into the DPRK unaccompanied ?

Normally, no.   Here's why: 

Of course, to some, the easy explanation is that "HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES just wants the extra money."  The reality, however, is far more than simple desire for profit.

During more than twenty years in the international business environment, working as an attorney with roles in the fields of foreign investment, dispute resolution and business development in different cultural environments, Michael Hay, founder of HK&A, saw, in his dealings with corporations from around the world, how the "prestige", "reputation" and size of a company were in no way guarantees necessarily of good judgment on the ground by its representatives in closing deals abroad.   Over many years, both in the DPRK and also in negotiations and dealings with the DPRK outside their own country, he watched others both harm their own company's interests and damage relationships with their DPRK counterparts before they even got off the ground, through lack of preparation or an unwillingness or (understandable) inability to understand or grasp how to deal with the DPRK.   Self-confidence can only go so far -- and sometimes causes trouble.

Just as the way HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES performs reflects upon the client, the client's actions, attitude and behavior are a reflection of the company introducing it to the DPRK -- HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES. 

HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES has in the past been asked to step in (by both foreign parties and by DPRK entities), on behalf of other parties to do damage control or otherewise restart projects that had stalled for reasons easily understandable if one has worked at length with the DPRK.  But HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES does not seek to specialize in damage control for other consultants or organizations -- its approach is one of damage avoidance in the first place, by thorough preparation, briefing and, where a company actually chooses to go into the DPRK, on-the-ground personalized, dedicated attention.

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.

Does HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES arrange business-tourist delegations ?

Normally, no.

One cannot go "hand-in-hand" with five, six or seven different companies, and expect to be able to give them personalized attention.  HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES serves clients who seek a different service.  This is not to criticize such delegations.  They can be very useful vehicles for some.  HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES is happy to provide referrals.

Does HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES arrange tourist visas to the DPRK ?

No.  HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES, however, will be happy to provide referrals for this.

You mention "associated" entities with whom you deal for some tasks.  How comfortable can I and/or my company be with that ?

HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES chooses very carefully those with whom it deals outside the DPRK.  They are not business partners, but are associated on an arm's-length, basis.  Furthermore, such working relationships are not unconditional -- they depend upon the quality of service.  For that reason, HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES will only work with,or otherwise recommend, a very small number of entities, and it is a requirement that HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES receive copies of all customer feedback questionnaires completed by any clients referred to them by HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES, or on whose behalf they work under subcontracting arrangements with HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES for certain administrative tasks.

In short, HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES's reputation depends upon the trust clients place in it to select wisely.  If associated entities fail to meet the requisite standard, they are dropped -- but none has been so far.  Equally, HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES works on the principle that it is held to the same standard.

Bear in mind, however, that at the end of the day, when you retain HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES the overwhelming majority of work will normally be done directly by HAY, KALB & ASSOCIATES.

^ back to top




Services Overview

 Laws, Regulations & Legal Advice        
  Market Entry
  Serviced Office

Fee Policy

DPRK Business Tips

Privacy Policy


  (c) 2001 Korea Strategic, Inc. - All rights reserved.