Generally, corporate legal teams are difficult to understand. The lives of legal teams depicted in dramas and movies portray a somewhat cold image to the public. However, this misconception quickly disappeared as we carried on the interview. We interviewed Yoon, Seong Min, Smilegate Holdings legal team’s assistant manager.
[Interview] Smilegate Holdings legal team’s assistant manager, Yoon, Seong Min
<Smilegate Holdings legal team’s assistant manager, Yoon, Seong Min>
Q. Please introduce yourself.
I am Yoon, Seong Min, the legal team’s assistant manager, and I have worked at Smilegate Holdings for 4 years. I majored in law as an undergraduate and am currently in charge of reviewing contracts related to businesses overseas and provide legal advice.
Q. Why did you join the legal team of the global entertainment company, Smilegate?
I have always liked and had interest in gaming since I was a kid. Smilegate stood out to me because it offers its services globally contrary to other domestic game companies that only service Korea. I joined the company because it is a place where I can utilize my English skills and I saw potential for growth for both me and the company.
Q. What kind of company is Smilegate?
In simple terms, Smilegate is a place where fantasies about a game company becomes reality. Contrary to the strict image of legal teams, I want to emphasize that we dress freely for work and enjoy a comfortable working environment. It is a place where you can approach and work with your colleagues because we share a love for gaming.
Q. What type of work does the legal team at Smilegate do?
We review contracts for all Smilegate affiliates and overseas branches, inspect investment and M&A laws, and provide legal advice on disputes and lawsuits, domestically and internationally. Basically, all matters involving payment and legal decisions go through the review of the legal team. Every decision from water fountains, hotel contracts, game development and service, to overseas expansion goes through the legal team.
Q. What are some advantages of the Smilegate legal team?
The biggest advantage is being able to broaden the spectrum of work experience. Smilegate is making constant global efforts to take on the VR business, host WCG competitions, and challenge itself in many other industries. In addition, you can be a part of supporting start-ups, contribute to society, etc. to further expand your work experience.
Q. What are the necessary qualifications to work for the legal team?
The most important qualification is imagination. You may take that as a surprise, but you have to be prepared for any kind of possibility when reviewing contracts. If it is not specifically stated in the contract, there is room for controversy and needs to be corrected. In the past, we have had problems that we doubted would happen.
Another important qualification is the sense of ownership. Careful reviews are essential when legal teams review contracts, just as if you were signing a contract for a house. You have to be able to constantly think about what kind of rights you are entitled to, as the owner of the game. Lastly, confidentiality is a necessity because we must review many important documents of the company.
Q. I understand the management of intellectual property (IP) is very important.
Yes, IP management is one of the most important tasks. For example, if the technology to make a cell phone is an asset to cell phone manufacturers, then for a global entertainment company like Smilegate, IP itself is the technology. IP includes the game's software, source code, characters, pictures, music, maps contained within the game, and more.
Proactive IP management is essential. From trademarks, music, characters, and various videos, Smilegate is registered with copyright committees around the world and is legally guaranteed. This is thoroughly managed by the company because it is used as legal basis when infringement cases occur, such as stealing works without permission and engaging in profit-making activities.
Q. What does your average day look like?
I get to work at 9 a.m. and check my email. After that, I either continue looking at the contract from yesterday or review a new one. If needed, I attend a meeting with the business department. Since we have many overseas branches, I sometimes go on business trips if legal help is needed.
Q. What would you like to tell us about Smilegate’s welfare system?
There are many welfare systems such as welfare points, but my personal favorite is the indoor screen golf course. I recently started learning golf because the lesson fee is very cheap and all the equipment I need is provided in-house. It is nice to be able to enjoy golf for 30 minutes to an hour after I get off work.
Q. What is your dream that you want to achieve at Smilegate?
My mid to long-term goal is to find my field of expertise and become a specialist. I want to be an irreplaceable resource in my field of expertise. Also, I am planning to challenge myself and obtain the U.S. bar license by taking online lectures.