Archive for April 10th, 2011

Korean people like the number “three”.  

In Korea, when we fail or are disappointed, we encourage ourselves quoting a common saying “don’t give up until the third trial”.

The funeral usually takes three days. Even though I don’t know the exact historical base, but we feel the “three” as a complete, comfortable number.

However, today is the ninetieth day from Joohyun’s death. He was twenty-five years old when he entered Samsung LCD as an engineer. His family still remembers how much he was happy to be a “Samsung-man”.

78th day of picketting in front of the plant - Joohyun's father

But Joohyun’s dream was totally destroyed.

Joohyun had suffered from skin disease due to chemicals which he could not know even the names of. So he had to move from the production line into a material supplying department.

But as before, he had to work more than 12 hours a day. He had to go to work whenever he got a call, even on holidays.

Also he was totally isolated  in his dormitory. There was no one with whom he could talk about because all the room mates had different work shift schedules. Moreover, more than three hundreds of cameras were watching everywhere to prevent workers assemblying.

Finally he got depression.

During the sick leave for two months, he looked to overcome his illness. But as the day to return to work was coming, he became irritable and anxious again.

A few days before the end of his sick leave, Joohyun visited the company to get counseling. After coming back from the company, he told his family that he should return to work, in the production line again. There was no other choice but to return to work – if he refused, he must quit his job.

52th day protesting at Samsung HQ - Joohyun's sister

The day was the first day of returning to work. Joohyun couldn’t sleep at all. He wandered here and there in the dormitory, and all his activities were recorded by hundreds cameras – even his four attempts to jump to his death.

Where is the justice?

Joohyun’s family have been demanding Samsung to apologize and take responsible action, because both Joohyun’s depression and death were not just individual problems.

According to the law, the company should:

– not force workers to work such a long time

– not force a sick worker to work in ain improper job

– guarantee the safety of workplaces and dormitories

– prevent workers’ physical and mental illness from working condition

So the family asked the local office of Ministry of Labor to investigate Joohyun’s working conditions, and to the police to investigate what had happened on the very day of Joohyun’s death.

At first, the response from both governmental organizations were the same: silence and ignorance. To tell a long story briefly, it took 90 days for them to do what they must do.

Recently, the local office of MOL have found a few illegal practices of Samsung, a small but clear evidence that can show the working conditions in Samsung plants are not different from that of a sweatshop. Finally, they will send the documents to the public prosecution office tomorrow.

That’s the reason why the family of Joohyun could not carry out his funeral until now. They just want to see where the justice is. And it has taken 90 days from his death…

84th protest visit to the Ministry of Labor

Today, Joohyun’s father told me:

“I think this is a new beginning. My family have already been tired so much, but we can’t stop here. We must watch the prosecutor. I told my wife and daughter that we must keep fighting, and that don’t forget what we have been demanding – our demand is that Samsung must apologize and take their responsibility for my son’s death.”

April 20 will be the 100th day from Joohyun’s death.

Let’s demand Samsung to get responsibility.

Let’s demand the Korean government to do their duty to watch the company and to punish its illegal practice.

Let’s add our voices to this lonely struggle of family who lost their youngest one.

Please think and act whatever you can add your voices to this struggle before the 100th day is coming.

Justice for all can’t be achieved without justice for the weakest people.

In solidarity,

For an earlier account of the suicide and later struggles of Joohyun’s family, see this previous post.

written by Jeong-ok Kong  (+82-10-9140-6249, anotherkong@gmail.com)
Supporters for Health And Rights of People in Semiconductor Industry (SHARPs)

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This short movie shows the forty-six workers who lost their life due to the occupational diseases at Samsung, one of the biggest company in Korea and one of the most famous electronic company in the world. Most of the victims got the illness at very young age and died. Listen to their voice, “Don’t forget me, my dream, my life, my tears, and my suffering”. Watch and share widely!


With English captions.

  • March, 2011, made by SHARPs (Supporters for Health And Right of People in Semiconductor Industry)
  • [Music] “Reason” by Park Chang-geun
  • [English] Stopsamsung.wordpress.com
  • [Korean] cafe.daum.net/samsunglabor
  • [Email] Sharps@hanmail.net

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The Second Collective Law Suit on Workers’ compensation

April 7, SHARPs held a press conference in the court and announced the second collective law suit against the government by four victims of occupational disease in Samsung electronics. The government agency which manages the National workers’ compensation insurance had refused to compensate them because the victims could not prove the so-called “work-relatedness” of their diseases.

The government has been demanding these victims to reveal “exactly what kind of chemicals” and “exactly how intensively” they had been exposed. But the workers had never got any education nor information about the chemicals in their workplace from the company.

Kim Chil-jun, one of two lawyers for the victims, said “it’s too unfair to shift all the responsibility of proving onto the victims”. According to his explanation, all these victims had entered the Samsung electronics before graduation of high school and must work more than 12 hours a day, being exposed to various hazardous chemicals without any information. The lawyer added, “By this law suit, we want to raise awareness of the hazard of the high-tech electronic industry as well as occupational diseases in Samsung electronics, and to make an opportunity to fix the wrong decision criteria of the workers’ compensation system.”

One of the four victims, Han Hae-kyoung, said, “the company never gave any information about the hazard to us”, and “I regret so bitterly working Samsung. No use to cry after losing health. What is the use of better pay?”. She added, “the company should not do this. They must have already known it, then they should tell us.”

The four victims who raised the law suit together are:

Han Hae-kyoung (female, age 33, brain tumor)
entered Samsung LCD plant in 1995, worked in soldering of PCB with lead, quit the company due to losing menstruation in 2001, got tumor in 2005, now has the first degree of disability in walking, talking, and vision.

Lee Yoon-jeong (female, age 31, malignant brain cancer)
entered Samsung semiconductor plant in Onyang, worked for 6 years in the job of testing the chip with very high temparature, quit the company in 2003, got the cancer in 2010 and announced to be able to live only 1 or 2 years.

You Myoung-hwa (female, age 29, aplastic anemia)
the same job in the same plant with Lee Yoon-jeong, entered the company in 2000, got the disease in 2001, has been living in her room depending on transfusion for 10 years but will not survive without bone marrow transplantation, has failed all the efforts to find out the proper donor both in and out of Korea.

Lee Hee-jin (female, age 27, multiple sclerosis)
entered Samsung LCD plant in Choenan, examined the LCD panels in high stress, got the disease in 2008, lost the vision of one eye, suffers from various dysfunction.


This law suit is not only for the compensation of 4 workers, but also for the lots of nameless victims of occupational diseases in the whole electronics industry in Korea.

Please keep your eyes on our struggles.


written by Jeong-ok Kong  (+82-10-9140-6249, anotherkong@gmail.com)
Supporters for Health And Rights of People in Semiconductor Industry

Related articles (In Korean language, But you can find a few photos there.)

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