After protests by SHARPS and student groups on campus, the Sociology department of Seoul National University (SNU) has reneged on plans to hire a former Samsung executive as a visiting scholar.
The SNU sociology faculty requested the university administration discontinue “administrative procedures” to appoint Hwang Chang-gyu, CEO of Samsung’s semiconductor unit between 2004 and 2008, to the cushy position, the department said in a statement posted on its website Jan. 21.
Hwang was once internationally famous for doubling memory chip capacity every year between 2002 and 2008. Hwang’s stint as head of Samsung’s semiconductor unit also is also infamous for a big push on production speed and volume at the cost of workplace safety.
Hwang Yumi, the first leukemia victim who came out against Samsung, was hired at the Samsung chip unit in 2003 when Hwang Chang-gyu began his big push on speed and volume. In 2005, she was diagnosed with leukemia. In 2007, Yumi died at the age of 23. Her family’s public outcry led to the formation of SHARPS.
The month-long attempt at Hwang’s hiring inspired protests at one of South Korea’s most prestigious colleges, from law school to the department seeking to bring him in-house. The sociology faculty found itself under public pressure and only grudgingly renounced the plans. “We feel deeply responsible and offer a sincere apology to Dr. Hwang [Chang-gyu] for the abnormal end to his hiring,” said the faculty in the statement.
The faculty went on to pontificate: “We express concerns about the bias expressed in statements by students. Interpreting Dr. Hwang’s hiring as a move to desert labor and side with capital cannot rescue sociology from the 20th century paradigm.”