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Archive for April 20th, 2011

The company initially ignored four suicide attempts by the same worker without taking action

By Jeon Jin-sik

Ninety-seven days. The chrysanthemums were a faint yellow with their heads dropped limply. The season changed from bitter cold to spring landscapes. At the viewing room for a young man who wilted away like the flowers, there was merely candlelight.

At the viewing room in Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital in South Chungcheong Province early Sunday morning, family members of the late Kim Ju-hyeon were just packing up their things. Kim, an employee at the Tangjeong factory of Samsung Electronics in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, took his own life on Jan. 11 by jumping from the thirteenth floor of his dormitory. His suicide came 373 days after he joined the company with the congratulations of his family.

Contending that Kim took his own life due to depression from excessive working hours and stress, the family members demanded an apology from the company and measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. They also claim that the company ignored no fewer than four previous suicide attempts by Kim without taking any appropriate measures on the morning of the incident.

“Being a worker for Samsung is not only a good thing,” said father Kim Myeong-bok 56, wiping away tears. “It was the first time I understood there was a world like this.”

A notebook confirmed to be Kim’s after the incident includes sentences such as “twelve hours of work = standard” and “one year and I’m dead.”

The record of the emergency care center at Soonchunhyung University Cheonan Hospital, which examined Kim’s body on the day of his death, includes phrases about “depression” and “references to suicide.” Samsung has refused to acknowledge this evidence that it knew about Kim’s suicide attempts.
Kim Myeong-bok and Samsung Electronics representatives signed an agreement on Apr. 15 that included a company apology and pledge to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

“I had no idea it would be so hard getting this single sheet of paper,” Kim said.

On the same day, the bereaved family members withdrew a January petition to the Cheonan branch of the Ministry of Employment of Labor asking for special labor oversight at Samsung Electronics, which the company demanded as part of its terms for signing the agreement.

Kim’s family members paid a visit Sunday to the dormitory where he had lived, but were unable to stay for even ten minutes due to control measures from the company. Following Kim’s cremation at Cheonan Memorial Park, the family plans to keep the container with his ashes at their home in Incheon for the time being.

“We will monitor to see whether the measures to prevent reoccurrence are properly implemented,” said Lee Jong-ran, a labor attorney with Banollim, a human rights and health watchdog for semiconductor workers.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Original source article at: http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/473516.html

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