Archive for May 9th, 2012

Samsung and the Korean Government Must Take Responsibility as the 55th Worker Dies from Occupational Cancer

9th May 2012



We, the participants of the makeITfair and GoodElectronics Round Table meeting, express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Lee Yunjeong who died 7 May 2012 at age 32 after struggling with occupational brain cancer from the Samsung semiconductor factory in Korea. Lee Yunjeong left behind a loving husband and two small children. Her funeral will be held on the morning of May 10th in Korea.


In 1997 at the age of 17, Lee Yunjeong began work at the Samsung Semiconductor Assembly and Test Factory in Onyang, Korea. For six years she experienced daily toxic chemical exposures during her job as a chip tester. In 2010, Lee Yunjeong was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer and died two years later after struggling with surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, her suffering included more than a horrible disease.


Like other workers that suffer from occupational diseases, Lee Yunjeong applied for workers compensation at the relevant Government department. However, the Korean Government refused to compensate her because she could not prove which specific toxic chemicals she had been exposed to. Samsung supported the Government’s decision.


Despite her illness, in 2011 Lee Yunjeong filed a lawsuit against the Government’s denial of workers compensation. Samsung lawyers fought against the lawsuit on behalf of the Government, arguing that no compensation should be provided to Lee Yunjeong or her family. Unfortunately, Lee Yunjeong died before the lawsuit could be decided.  


Like 54 workers before her, Lee Yunjeong is a lethal victim of occupational illness resulting from toxic chemical exposure at Samsung. Unfortunately, her story is emblematic of a deeper problem in two ways. First, the Korean Workers Compensation and Welfare Service admits that Korea lags far behind when it comes to the rate at which cancer is acknowledged as caused by job activities. Second, the Korean judicial system has confirmed the link between occupational illness and Samsung employment for other victims.   


We, the participants of the makeITfair and GoodElectronics Round Table meeting respectfully request the following actions:


  • A peaceful solemn funeral ceremony which is not interrupted by either the Government or Samsung activities
  • Compensation for all victims of occupational diseases, particularly those from the electronics industry including Samsung
  • Concrete, publically announced actions by Samsung accompanied with substantial participation of the workers to prevent toxic chemical exposures and occupational diseases
  • Public commitment by the Korean Government and Samsung that the right to a safe and healthy work environment is a fundamental human right
  • An apology for the death of Lee Yunjeong from the Korean Government and Samsung


 Signatories of 34 participants from 18 countries



Institution (Only for Identification)

Caudron Jean-Marc



Lynda Yanz


Maquila Solidarity Network

Chan Sze Wan Debby



Vikki Chan



May Wong


Globalization Monitor

Jakob Rasmussen



Lotta Staffans


ProEthical Trade

Henri Purje



Sebastian Jekutsch


FIfF e.V.

Cornelia Heydenreich


German Watch

Laura Ceresna



Jeong-ok Kong


Korea Institute of Labor Safety and Health

Bruno Periera


Electronic Industry Employers’ Union Western Region

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