Archive for April 17th, 2010

The column article here in progressive newspaper/site Hangyoreh reflect growing awareness and criticism in South Korea of Samsung:

The book “Thinking About Samsung (Samseong-eul Saenggakhanda)” by attorney Kim Yong-cheol is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the Republic of Korea of today. In particular, it shares the way in which state organizations have contorted themselves miserably in the face of Samsung, South Korea’s largest chaebol. When the Samsung management scattered about a slush fund of astronomical proportions, government organizations repaid the debt of gratitude by covering up all manner of illegalities and improprieties. The autonomy of a modern state “ruled by the authority of law” came crashing down. The fact that so many calls for direct action through a Samsung boycott campaign have erupted, chiefly through the Internet newspaper Pressian, can be attributed first and foremost to the rage citizens feel about being betrayed by the state.

Samsung’s was not delegated power through an election, but it has already taken the nation in its grip. Former president Roh Moo-hyun’s remark that “Power has gone over to the market” was not far off from the sense that his own administration was also under Samsung’s control. Public prosecutors and special prosecutors, the National Tax Agency and the Financial Supervisory Service, the National Assembly and the judiciary – all have betrayed the people’s expectations for the realization of law and justice in the face of Samsung’s authority. All have negated their own reasons for being. And by issuing a special pardon for an individual conglomerate head, former Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, President Lee Myung-bak clearly demonstrated the thesis presented early on in critical national theory, namely that “the state is the steward of capital.”


For full article by Hong Se-hwa in Hangyoreh in English, see:


For the original article in Korean, see:


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Another cancer death at Samsung but Korean government arrests OHS activists

On March 31, 2010, Park Ji-yeon — a young worker from Samsung’s Onyang semiconductor factory — died of leukemia at age 23. Her tragic death came less than one month after Samsung workers, their families, and community supporters participated in the 1st Memorial Week of occupational deaths of semiconductor workers to honor the memory of the many other workers who gave their lives working at Samsung. There are now 23 documented cases of Samsung workers who have suffered from blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, and 9 workers among them have already died. A petition to support the workers can be read and signed here: http://www.petitiononline.com/s4m5ung/petition-sign.html.

We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of all who lost their lives after working at Samsung. (Samsung is now one of the world’s most powerful corporations — they enjoyed record sales of $120.48 billion in 2009 , and now rank # 1 in flat screen TV sales and #2 in mobile phone sales globally).

We collectively grieve this tragic and unnecessary loss of life and express our outrage that occupational cancers are a growing health crisis in the electronics industry. This problem is not confined to Samsung or Korea. This is an industry-wide issue because the companies create unsafe workplaces throughout the world, and unsafe conditions in the communities in which they operate. A series of recent investigations in the US, UK, Taiwan and elsewhere have highlighted an elevated cancer risk in workers in the semiconductor industry (for more information, see http://www.ehjournal.net/content/5/1/30 ). For far too long, electronics industry executives have continued to deny responsibility and have treated chemical exposure and the resulting cancer deaths as simply the cost of doing business. We say “Enough Is Enough!”

Instead of conducting a proper investigation of the occupational nature of the deaths and adopting adequate prevention measures, the Korean government supported Samsung and joined its efforts to silence the growing evidence of a cancer cluster among electronics manufacturing workers at Samsung in Korea who have been exposed to toxic chemicals. On 2nd April there was a funeral ceremony for Park Ji-yeon, followed by a press conference at Samsung headquarters in Seoul to demand accountability from Samsung. The press conference was broken up by the police who then arrested seven of the activists who then shouted to Samsung “You are responsible for the death of Ji-Yeon Park.” They were released 2 days later without charges.

We condemn these actions by Samsung and the Korean government and demand that:

  • Samsung acknowledge its responsibility for the cancer deaths of its workers;
  • The Korean government enforce its laws against Samsung for its actions rather than punish its workers and their supporters. (more…)

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Samsung has steadily refused to acknowledge and compensate for the leukemia and other illnesses contracted by its workers through their dangerous work producing electronics goods in their factories. Most recently, Park Ji-yeon, a former Samsung worker, died at the age of just 23, on 31 March 2010.

There are over 1200 signatures on the web petition from 45 countries. Read the petition and add your name now!


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