Archive for the ‘Statements / Press Releases’ Category


On March 6th 2012 , SHARPS held a press conference at the Gwangwhamun square to announce the death of Ms.Kim from breast cancer and the demand of compensation to the government.

KCOMWEL announced its recognition of the death of Ms. D.E. Kim from breast cancer as an occupational death from her work at Samsung Semiconductor plant.

This is the second recognition of occupational disease of Samsung Semiconductor workers by Korean governments. The first case was aplastic anemia.

The decision of KCOMWEL to compensate for her death was made based on its recognition of work-relatedness of her cancer with exposures to radiation, hazardous chemicals, and shiftwork with nightwork which is classified as a probable human carcinogen by IARC.

It is known that 70~80% of breast cancer is developed by environmental factors. It is very rare to get malignancy like breast cancer at age of early 30’s. Night shift known as a carcinogen to human and stress which can disturb immunity as well as chemicals and radiation can contribute to develop the breast cancer of Ms.Kim.

Ms.Kim was born in 1976. She entered Samsung Semiconductor plant at Giheung in May 1995 at age of 19. Her first duty was done at the line number 7, which had just been set up and unstable. She worked at the Ion Implantation, photo, and etching processes in the same factory until January 2000.

After leaving the factory, Ms.Kim married and became a mother of two children. In August 2009, when she was 33 years old, stage Ⅲ of breast cancer was found. Despite of mastectomy and treatment, cancer spread to the bone and liver.

SHARPS had supported her to prepare documents to demand workers’ compensation to the government, but she passed away too early in March 2012 at her young age of 36. So now the compensation is for her family including two young children, not for her treatment.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment should be more active in prevention of occupational diseases by eliminating hazardous chemicals, reducing nightwork, and implementing protective policy for workers, as well as more active in recognition of occupational disease to secure workers’ right.

Most of all, Samsung should apologize to all the workers and their family who has been suffering from occupational diseases, and take a responsible and transparent steps to prevent further tragedy.

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The majority of the 56 victims of the blood disorder cluster at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. were vocational high school graduates from poor families in small cities.  They went to work at Samsung in the late 1990s when South Korea boasted one of the world’s highest college enrollment rates, 61 percent.  Before the victims fell to a variety of blood disorders, Samsung, which was on its way to become the world’s largest chipmaker, was their source of pride and opportunity.  On July 9, Hankyoreh 21, one the county’s few independent weeklies, profiled four victims from the small city of Kunsan in a cover story.  The following is a translation of the report [All brackets are added]:           


The July 9, 2012 issue of Hankyoreh 21

Sitting quietly on the edge of Kum River, the southwestern city of Kunsan was a bustling port city under Japanese colonial rule of 1910-45 when it was a conduit for the Japanese to siphon rice off the Korean peninsula.  The colonial master called the city Kunsan of rice.  In the 1960s-80s, largely left out of South Korea’s fervent industrialization, Kunsan’s wealth declined.  For young girls living in a city whose skyline is still dominated by colonial edifices and floating piers, working at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., was a giant leap forward.

The four former Samsung Electronics employees, Yun Seul –ki and Yi Ah-young,  both 31 years old; Kim Mi-seon, 32 years old; and Chung Ae-jeong, 35 years old, went to the same Kunsan high school.  Yun and Yi are class 2000. Kim is class 1998 and Chung class 1996. They all spent least a year together with one or two of the other girls at Gunsan Girls Commercial High School, perhaps singing together the refrain of their school anthem: “My proud Gunsan Girls Commercial High.” About a decade later, Yun died.  Yi is suffering the aftereffects of surgery. Kim is on her sickbed.  Chung lost her husband to a disease he contracted while employed at Samsung.  Their medical conditions are: severe aplastic anemia; intermediate tumors in the head and neck; multiple sclerosis; and leukemia. It is unlikely that other Gunsan graduates share the bitter fate. Each contracted the disease while working at the Samsung LCD plant in Chonan or the semiconductor lab, and the LCD plant in Kiheung.


Over the gate of Gunsan Girls Commercial, a banner flies to congratulate recent graduates on their first jobs. Six are employed as operators at a Samsung Mobile Display plant in Chonan. About thirty have jobs at other semiconductor makers.

Even before graduation, the girls left home to partake in production of semiconductors, locally dubbed “the rice of industry.”  In the cleanroom, no speck of dust was allowed.  They stripped off their school uniforms and slipped into dirt-free garments covering themselves from head to toe.  They covered their long or short hair, and their brown eyes were exposed, still sparkling.  The rice of industry began to engulf the young girls from a small and old vocational school.

Yi began work at Samsung in June 1996, about a month later than Yun.  Yi still vividly remembers the day she entered the company fifteen years ago.  For a vocational school girl of a small city, working at the world’s biggest electronics maker was the source of pride.  Without standout academic credentials, one could not land a job at Samsung.  A year prior to her employment, Only 40 out of 100 applicants from her school received employment offers.

Samsung sent interviewers to the school.  Three interviewers interviewed about seven applicants together. “Semiconductor jobs were popular because they paid well, and had good dormitories.  I wanted a Samsung job because I wanted to make a lot of money,” said Yi.  A month later, she got on board the bus sent by Samsung for its in-house training facility.  Only five of her 47-student homeroom class landed Samsung jobs. .

Yi was posted as operator to the chemical vapor deposition process, in which she used chemical gas to add dopants to a pure semiconductor to modify its electrical properties.  Working on a three-daily shift was not easy to manage.  She had skin rashes and even collapsed. “My health got worse very much.  I found it hard to get adjusted to the company,” said Yi.  She resigned as operator in April 2002. The following year, she went to college.

She often became sick for no particular reason.  She felt exhausted, as if falling victim to a severe flu.  “Once I got sick, it lasted a month,” Yi said.  During four months a year in those years, she felt feeble.  She thought it was a tough flu to beat.  She took medicines and saw a doctor.  The illness continued to hound her even after college graduation.

It was the summer of 2009 when she began to see doctors at big hospitals in Seoul. They found intermediate tumor glands in her neck and head.  One of her doctors described them as glands in her nervous system.  “The condition is so rare that there are three patients with it a year,” Yi quoted her doctor as saying. Yi said, “I had the tumors removed quickly.  I suffered facial paralysis.”  The facial paralysis has become less severe, and she now works at a new job.

Yi believes she developed the tumors while employed at the semiconductor plant.  “A senior colleague of mine, who was a line inspector, collapsed with a foaming mouth.  Much later, I came to know that one predecessor had died of leukemia,” she said. “In 2000, when I was an operator, there was a blackout.”  There were concerns about possible chemical leaks during the blackout.  Yi has considered filing a request for workers’ compensation, but she did not file it.  “They don’t recognize even the dead ones.  Why would they grant my request?  I feel fortunate that I got out of there [Samsung] alive.”

Yi had not been in contact with Yun since graduation.  She came to know of the death of Yun, when interviewed by Hankyoreh 21.  “We were dying to work at Samsung.  I didn’t know all ended this way

Yun is the 56th victim of blood disorder clustering in the semiconductor industry as profiled by SHARPS.  She died at a Seoul hospital on June 2.  “I will live in Japan.”  This Yun often said to her mother.  A Kunsan native, Yun wanted to go to college in Japan.  She thought herself Japanese.  Yun was a fan of SMAP, a Japanese teenage pop band.  Thirteen years of struggling with severe aplastic anemia has deterred her dream.

Yun wanted to go to a prep school to improve her chances for college.  However, at the request of her mother, Shin, she went to Gunsan Girls Commercial, a high school whose graduates often land good industry jobs.

In May 1999, ahead of graduation, Yun applied for a position at Samsung.  A month later, she began to work at the LCD plant in Chonan.  Shin was proud of her daughter for working at a big corporation.  Yun was responsible for cutting chemically glazed LCD panels into size.  When Shin asked Yun about her job, she always indifferently said, “I am just a factory girl.”  The mother said, “I did not expect her to work on a blue-collar job at Samsung when she was employed at the company.”

Five months into the job, Yun fell on the factory floor.  She thought it was a flu, the one that got worse.  She did not get better.  Yun was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells.  Yun, herself a regular blood donor since high school, was an unlikely victim of the disease.  Her long fight against it began.  In 2002, she could nevertheless begin to study Japanese at a local college.

Her condition grew worse.  She stayed home longer, passing time by reading Murakami and other Japanese fiction.  Learning news that a former Samsung employee would receive workers compensation for aplastic anemia, she decided to file the request.  But her time ran out.  She died in May.

Kim is two years senior to Yi and Yun.  In 1997, she began to work as an operator in another LCD plant of Samsung.  She went through what the other two experienced two years sooner.  It was March 2000 when she became sick, about six months apart from Yun.  Kim is under treatment in Seoul for multiple sclerosis and optic neuritis.  Multiple sclerosis, the cause of which is yet unknown, can be caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals and excessive stress.  It damages the myelin sheath, which in turn slows down or blocks messages between the brain and body.  Kim is visually impaired because of the optic neuritis.

“They paid me 10, 000 won (US$10) in stipends after the interview.  I was so happy,” Kim said.  About 100 girls from her class went to work at Samsung’s LCD plants.  “It was during the 1997 financial meltdown [in the country].  There were fewer jobs going around.  I was glad to get selected by a big corporation with good pay,” she added.  She was hired in June 1996 and deployed to a soldering job after months of training.  “At first, I was responsible for soldering taps on LCD panels after cleaning them.  After a year, I was responsible for lead soldering,” she said.

After three years into employment, she became paralyzed on the left side of her body.  She could not lift the left arm anymore.  There is no history in her family of any such condition.

In March 2000, she took medical leave.  Her condition worsening, Kim eventually resigned from the company.  “Mother wanted me to seek workers’ compensation.  I opposed it.” She said. “I believed I could get back to work.  The company said my workers compensation request would not likely be accepted because the illness was caused for personal reasons.”

She went in and out of hospital as the condition of sclerosis fluctuated.  She lost vision in the right eye.  With her left eye, she can barely read large fonts on the computer screen.  Last year, Kim filed a request for workers compensation with the help of SHARPS, which she came to know through news reports.  “I did lead soldering, and air purifiers were often non-functional.  I sometimes wore only a paper mask.  We did not know how hazardous our jobs were,” she added.  She still collects prescriptions every two months.  She regularly has to undergo antibody and blood tests.  “I would have not worked at a semiconductor factory should I have known it was such a place.”

The memory chip industry experienced a great boom in 1995.  The release of Windows 95 boosted prices of memory chips.  Chung, a mother of two, is now a preschool teacher in the city of Siheung.  A Gunsan Girls Commercial graduate, she is a victim of the occupational disease cluster at Samsung. She lost her husband, himself an employee of the company, to leukemia.

Chung followed in the footsteps of her sister, who went to work at Samsung after graduation of the same high school.  “If you did not find a white-collar job in Kunsan, then Samsung is the next on your list,” she said.  In October 1995, Chung was employed as an operator at the plant in Kiheung.   Many of the young girls feared leaving home to work elsewhere.  Samsung’s well-appointed dormitories eased the fears.  “They even considered our conduct records.  They preferred upstanding students without truancy and cutting records.” Chung said.  About 150 graduates including her landed jobs at Samsung.

Three years into Samsung, she met Hwang Min-woong, an engineer, during a company choir practice.  They got married.  In 2004, Hwang was taken to the ER for flulike symptoms.  .He was diagnosed with leukemia.  Nine months later, he died while awaiting marrow donations.  It was ten days after Chung gave birth to their second child.  The company said the disease had nothing to do with Samsung.  She has continued to work at Samsung.   Chung’s story is depicted in A Clean Room.  She helps former Samsung employees to file requests for workers compensation,

On June 27, 2012 afternoon, girls began to pour from the gate of Gunsan Girls Commercial, bursting laughs as any teenager girls would.  Over the gate, a banner flies to congratulate recent graduates on their first jobs.  Six are employed as operators at a Samsung Mobile Display plant in Chonan.  About thirty have jobs at other semiconductor makers.  When asked what they know about working conditions at Samsung, some students answered, “We’ve been talking about it.  It’s dangerous to work there, but Samsung is still Samsung.  They pay well.”

“Samsung used to employ graduates in busloads,” one girl said.  “There are not many openings at Samsung.  They don’t have money either.”  Another concluded, “We came to a commercial high school because we want jobs after graduation.  There are not many jobs going around in Kunsan.”

“There are few well-paying jobs in Kunsan,” school sources said. “The students tend to favor the operator positions.”  Lee, the former homeroom teacher of Yun and Yi, said, “In 1999, after the financial crisis, when jobs were scarce, we found Samsung’s mass hiring encouraging.”

“We did not have any awareness or information about the danger of semiconductor and LCD production,” said assistant superintendent Park.  “It is very deplorable to see my students suffering.”

Leukemia and other cancers don’t require working at Samsung Electronics.  However, it is unusual for a disease to cluster at the same production line of the same plant in the same period.  The working conditions ten years ago at the production line that no longer exists is the point of contention between Samsung and former employees over whether to determine their medical conditions are occupational diseases.  Samsung and the government focus on the now-disintegrated production line, while the victims point to the decrepit machines used on the line.

“We deplore the death of Yun, a former colleague of ours,” said a Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. spokesperson.  However, he categorically denied any relationship between her disease and her job.  “Yun worked for just six months, including four months of apprenticeship.  She was responsible for mechanical operations, which did not require chemical processing.  Pre-employment health screening was not thorough enough to detect the symptoms of her condition,” the spokesperson said.  Countering Samsung, Yi Jong-ran, labor attorney with SHARPS, said: “Chemicals could have entered the air when Yun cut LCD panels.  Aplastic anemia has a short incubation phase and be caused by a short exposure to [hazardous materials].”

Concerning Yi and Kim, the Samsung spokesperson said, “The occurrences of the diseases should be measured against the number of graduates.  It does not appear scientific when you combine two different diseases to create causality because the two former employees went to the same school.”  Asked to measure the occurrences in a particular place, during a particular process and in a particular period, he answered that it made little sense.

Samsung proposed a public examination.  “SHARPS disclosed 137 workers whom it says have come out.  Their identities are not disclosed, and they came down to a disease at differing points of time. If who they are, what diseases to which they came down and what line of production they were are disclosed, we can examine their cases together,” said the spokesperson.  Says attorney Lee, “The Samsung Health Research Institute [a health research arm of Samsung Electronics] has proposed dialogue.  However, Samsung used money to stop the workers from requesting workers compensation and to drop lawsuits.  They did not do anything to build trust.  What dialogue is possible, given the situation?”

On June 14, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee paid respects at the mortuary of four Samsung C&T employees who were killed in a helicopter crash in Peru.  He told the conglomerate to revamp safety measures for Samsung employees working overseas.  There are fifty-six mortuaries the tycoon passed by.  A lack of dirt, all white, is not necessarily clean.  The girls’ dirt-free suits were dreadfully white.

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ImageWe lost another life of  young  Samsung worker at 7th May. This is the 55th Death from Samsung.

Lee Yunjeong, who had been born in 1980, worked in Samsung semiconductor Assembly & Test factory in Onyang for six years from  1997 to 2003, and got diagnosis malignant brain cancer at 2010.

After two-year suffering from the brain surgery and chemotherapy, finally she passed away at 7 May 2012, in her age of 32, leaving the loving husband and two children.

Lee Yunjeong had applied for Workers’ Compensation to the Governments, which is one of Korean social insurances, but the Governments refused to compensate her because she could not prove which toxic chemicals she had been exposed to.

Lee raised lawsuit against the Governments’ decision at 2011, but could not survive long enough to see the result of lawsuit. Samsung has involved the lawsuit by hiring lawyers to support the Governments and to prevent the workers and the families from getting compensation.

Her funeral will be held at the morning of 10th May(time in Korea) in front of Samsung headquarter building in Seoul.

Korean Government and Samsung should apologize in front of the death of Lee.
Korean Government and Samsung should guarantee the solemn funeral ceremony can be finished in peace at May 10th.
Samsung should stop undermining the just right of workers to be compensated, and respect the labor rights.
Korean Government should compensate to all the victims from electronic industry including Samsung.

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On 10th April 2012, Samsung occupational victims in the semiconductor industry received a major boost forward in their long struggle.

Below is the statement of SHARPS on April 10 regarding the ruling:

Today, April 10, The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced its recognition of the aplastic anemia suffered by Ms. Jisook Kim as an occupational disease from her work at Samsung Semiconductor Onyang factory. Ms. Jisook Kim is the 18th victim to make a workers’ compensation application with SHARPS.

In SHARPS we believe this recognition of Ms. Kim’s aplastic anemia as an occupational disease by KCOMWEL is a completely correct and sensible judgment.

The work conditions of Ms. Jisook Kim were almost same as for the other victims of Samsung Semiconductor Onyang factory who had applied with SHARPS for workers’ compensation since 2007.

In that time, KCOMWEL had investigated the illnesses (such as leukemia, malignant lymphoma, aplastic anemia and related blood diseases) of the same type as Ms. Kim which had been reported in the same workplace, but it had said that no cancerous materials like benzene could be found, and had repeatedly refused to give recognition of the illnesses as occupational diseases. But now it has recognized the worker’s disease as an occupational one in the case of Ms. Kim’s application.

This essentially shows KCOMWEL’s own recognition that its previous refusals to recognize occupational disease had been wrong.

We can say that with the approval ruling for Ms. Jisook Kim, KCOMWEL has set a new benchmark.
We believe that this opens a path in the future for workers’ compensation approvals for victims of leukemia, malignant lymphoma, aplastic anemia, and other illnesses, not only in Samsung but also in every semiconductor factory.

There are so many cases that should already have been approved for workers’ compensation by now. Although we feel it is very late for KCOMWEL to give approval of  workers’ compensation for the first time now, five years after leukemia and other diseases in semiconductor factories had become known, we still gladly welcome the ruling of KCOMWEL based on reason and truthful evidence, even if only now.

Above all, we can’t help but be glad that this recognition ruling will give at least a little comfort to the victims who struggle day by day to cope with their diseases like aplastic anemia.

Moreover, this decision opens the way for workers’ compensation approval for occupational disease victims of Samsung Semiconductor who had previously been rejected for compensation and who are now in civil lawsuits -Chang-ho Song, Eun-kyung Kim, Myeong-hwa Yoo, Yoon-jung Lee, Yoo–mi Hwang (d), Sook-young Lee (d), Min-Woong Hwang (d), and others – as well as other victims.

Lastly, this is the chance for Samsung to stop insisting and deceiving the public that it uses no cancerous chemicals and that the sicknesses of the workers are not occupational. Instead, with the decision of KCOMWEL to recognize Ms. Jisook Kim’s occupation disease, Samsung should admit there was a serious problem in the work conditions at its semiconductor factories, and apologize to the victims and to the public.

For this, the first step of Samsung should be to stop to its interference (application to supplement the lawsuit) in the civil lawsuits of the victims for workers’ compensation.

Original statement in Korean by SHARPS with related statements and documents are here: http://cafe.daum.net/samsunglabor/MHzN/113

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On March 6th, 2012, a Memorial Day was held in Seoul for deceased Samsung worker Hwang Yumi and all the other occupational deaths in Semiconductor/Electronics Industry…

Father of Hwang Yumi, a Samsung worker who died of leukemia five years ago. He was one of the first to realize the problem of occupational cancers and illnesses among Samsung workers and challenge Samsung to take responsiblity

You can see the original and more photos of SHARPs’ activities at their website here:


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The Occupational Diseases of Electronics/Semiconductor Industry in South Korea
based on the information collected by SHARPS
Update as of March 5th, 2012

(The numbers mean victims and deaths among them respectively)

Total: 154, 61 (i.e. 154 victims found with occupational diseases; 61 deaths)

Samsung Semiconductor: 85, 30
Samsung LCD: 16, 7
Samsung mobile phone and other electronics: 11, 7
Samsung Electromechatronics: 11, 7
Samsung SDI: 10, 2
Samsung Techwin: 4, 0
(Subtotal of Samsung: 137, 53)

Hynix (Magnachip): 9, 5
Amco Technology Korea (Anam): 2, 0
Subcontractors of electronics components: 6, 3

These are the reported and known cases; how many more sick victims and deaths might there be which have been unreported?

Workers must be informed about the hazards they face at work; their rights to information and protection must be respected; and their lives must be treasured. Until all these are achieved in the industry, particularly at Samsung, the number of sick and dead victims will only keep rising.

Here you can find our previous posting regarding illnesses and deaths of workers in Samsung factories, which SHARPS had become aware of by 2010:


And here, about new victims that were discovered in 2011:


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Previously on this blog, we shared that Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL), had taken the brazenly anti-worker step of appealing to a higher court against a court ruling which had overturned KCOMWEL’s rejection of two Samsung workers’ claim for compensation. That court had confirmed that indeed there was a link between the workers’ Samsung workplace and their cancer and illness.

Below we share the letter of nearly 200 signatories, who sent a letter to the South Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor in October 2011, condemning the behavior of KCOMWEL which appears to be colluding with the corporation Samsung at worst, and at the least does not appear to be doing the maximum to protect workers’ welfare and implement correct judgement about their just compensation from workplace injury and illness.

(The previous posting re: this case is here: https://stopsamsung.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/state-agency-kcomwel-appeals-against-court-ruling-in-favor-of-samsung-occupational-disease-victims/)

October 3, 2011

Honorable Minister Lee Chae-Pil

Ministry of Employment and Labor

Republic of South Korea

Dear Honorable Minister Lee Chae-Pil,

We are writing to express deep concern about the recent actions of Korea

Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL), an important part of the Ministry of Employment and Labor directly involved in compensation for worker injury.

As you know, in recent times more than 140 workers in the electronics sector have been diagnosed with serious occupational diseases including cancer, and at least one third of them have already died. Most of them worked for Samsung.

Twenty injured workers filed for compensation by KCOMWEL due to the occupational origin of their illnesses. We were surprised and disturbed to hear that KCOMWEL rejected their claims. We believe that KCOMWEL’s rejection does not reflect the agency’s mission to, “…contribute to the improvement of workers’ quality of life…” nor does it offer a, “…working hope and dream for workers” as stated by Mr. Shin Young-Chul, the President of KCOMWEL.

On June 23, 2011, the Seoul Administrative Court overturned KCOMWEL’s erroneous judgment, finding the agency to be wrong in rejecting the link between leukemia and the workplace of two workers. This raises further questions about how KCOMWEL is operating with respect to its mission.

The process became even more disturbing when KCOMWEL decided to appeal the court’s decision, effectively seeking to refuse worker compensation for injury in the workplace. When a public interest non-governmental organization (Supporters for Health and Right of People in Semiconductor Industry) pressed KCOMWEL about their decision to appeal, they were told that the Prosecutor made the decision to appeal and that the agency must obey their decision. However, Mr. Shin Young-Chul stated that he would re-exam the appeal and notify the injured workers if it would go forward. This turned out to deceptive.  During the recent National Assembly audit, Mr. Chung Dong Young (a lawmaker from the Democratic Party) revealed that KCOMWEL had already submitted a document actively proposing an appeal to the Prosecutor three days before promising injured workers KCOMWEL would investigate the matter and stating that KCOMWEL was just following the wishes of the Prosecutor. The investigation by Mr. Chung Dong Young revealed that KCOMWEL actively worked to undermine the court judgment and indicated that KCOMWEL coordinated with Samsung on the matter. Apparently, KCOMWEL actively worked to avoid workers’ compensation and even lied to injured victims about the entire process.

We find KCOMWEL’s actions to be dishonorable and not in keeping with the agency mission or the standards of the Korean Government. Therefore, in the short term we urge the Ministry of Labor and Employment to withdraw the mistaken court appeal of the two injured Samsung workers. We also believe that the agency should be held accountable for its dishonorable actions. In the mid- term, we believe that there should be a careful examination of KCOMWEL operations with an eye towards improving workers’ quality of life, starting with full disclosure and transparency of agency research and actions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

Sanjiv Pandita, Executive Director

Asia Monitor Resource Centre

Flat 7, 9th Floor, Block A

Fuk Keung Industrial Building

66-68 Tong Mi Road

Kowloon, Hong Kong

Ph: 2332-1346, 2332-1347

Fax: 2385-5319

CC: Shin Young Chul, Chairperson, KCOMWEL

Assembly members of the Environment and Labor Committee

Dr. Jeong-ok Kong, SHARPS

Additional Signatories

1 Australia National Toxics Network  Joanna Immig Coordinator

2 Mariann Lloyd-Smith PhD, Senior Advisor

3 Bangladesh Center for Participatory Research and

Development Md Shamsuddoha

4 Coastal development Partnership  M M Mahbub Hasan Chief Regional Officer

5 Community Development Friend  Anwara Parvin

6 Belgium European Trade Union Institute Tony Musu Senior Researcher

7 Laurent Vogel Director of the Working Conditions

8 R.I.S.K. Tony Tweedale

9 Cambodia Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) Heng Sam Orn Secretary General

10 The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association  Nay Vanda Director

11 Worker’s Information Center(WIC) Touch Sreyneath Coordinator

12 Cameroon Centre de Recherche et d’Education pour le

Développement Gilbert Kuepouo, PhD  Coordinator

13 Canada Clean Production Action Beverly Thorpe Co-Director

14 Maquila Solidarity Network Kevin Thomas

15 Lynda Yanz

16 United Food and Commercial Workers Local

832 Robert Hilliard

Workers’ Compensation Advocate

17 Worksafe Dorothy Wigmore Occupational health specialist

18 China Asia Monitor Resource Center Sanjiv Pandita Executive Director

19 Doris Lee Publications Coordinator

20 Fahmi Panimbang

21 Omana George

22 Globalization Monitor May Wong

23 Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union Koonkwan Ng Organizer

24 Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior Chan Sze Wan Debby

25 Egypt Day Hospital Institute for Development and Rehabilitation Ahmed Abou-El-Ezz Eng. Coordinator

26 Fiji Peoples Community Network

27 Germany University of Constance  Dieter Kief

28 Women in Europe for a Common Future Alexandra Caterbow Coordinator, Chemicals and Health

29 Ghana Ecological Restorations Emmanuel Odjam- Akumatey Executive Director

30 Hungary Clean Air Action Group Andras Lukacs President

31 Greenpeace Gergely Simon

32 India Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Dharmesh Shah

33 New Socialist Initiative (NSI) India Bonojit Hussain

34 Occupational and Environmental Health network of India  Mohit Gupta Coordinator

35 Peoples Training And Research Centre Jagdish Patel

36 The Other Media Madhumita Dutta Corporate Accountability Desk

37 Indonesia Federation of Independent Trade Union (GSBI) Rudi Hb Daman Chair

38 Indonesia Toxics-Free Network Yuyun Ismawati; Goldman Prize 2009 Coordinator

39 Institut Perempuan (Women’s Institute) Ellin Program Coordinator

40 Valentina Sagala Director

41 International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) Wahyu Susilo Program Coordinator

42 Papua Traditional Council Leonard Imbiri General Secretary

43 PERGERAKAN Shantoy Hades Head of International Networks

44 Sedane Labour Resource Centre Syarif Arifin

45 Solidaritas Perempuan (Women Solidarity) Aliza Yuliana Program Coordinator

46 The Indonesian Anti Discrimination Movement (GANDI)

47 YTLI and Yamakindo Blanche Director

48 Independent Committee for Election Monitoring Pipit Apriani Foreign Affairs Officer

49 Migrant CARE  Wahyu Susilo Founding Member

50 Japan Citizens Against Chemical Pollution Takeshi Yasuma Chemicals Policy Analyst

51 Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center  Sugio Furuya Secretary General

52 Malaysia All Women’s Action Scoeity (AWAM) Ho Yocklin Acting President/Deputy President

53 Building and Wood workers’ International Shelly Wolya Asia Pacific Regional Office

54 Consumer Association of Penang Mageswari Sangaralingam Research Director

55 Electronic Industry Employees’ Union Western Region Peninsular Malaysia  Saharudin Adnan

56 Labour Resource Centre (LRC),  Saharudin Adnan Organizier

57 Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor Irene Xavier

58 Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth)  S.M. Mohamed Idris President

59 Sarawak Dayak Iban association Sarawak   SADIA HQ

60 WIRDA MALAYSIA Zuraida Kamarudin

61 Mexico CAATA Fernando Bejarano

62 CEREAL David Foust Rodríguez

63 Colibri Consulting Michael Conroy Co-Director

64 Nepal General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions  Ramesh Badal Secretary , Department of Foreign Affairs

65 Nepal Policy Institute Gopal Siwakoti ‘Chintan’

66 Water and Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal

67 Netherlands ABVAKABO FNV Bert Giskes

68 GoodElectronics Network Pauline Overeem Coordinator

69 New Zealand Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand Meriel Watts, PhD Coordinator

70 UNITE Union Duncan Allan

71 Pakistan Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research

72 Philippines Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Anna Leah Escresa

73 Kilusang Mayo Uno Miles Quero-Asa Secretary, International Dept

74 Migrante International Gina Esguerra Secretary General

75 National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights Marlon Torres

76 Solidarity of Cavite Workers Jojit

77 The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy Amira Rasul Director

78 Russia EcoAccord Program on Chemical Safety Olga Speranskaya Director, PhD Goldman Prize 2009

79 Singapore Think Centre Ted Tan Executive Secretary

80 Spain Mercuriados Servando Pérez-Dominguez President

81 University of Valladolid Santiago Cáceres Industrial Engineering Faculty

82 Sri Lanka National Free Trade Union Leon Joseph

83 Ceylon Plantation Worker’s Union Menaha Kandasamy

84 Red Flag Women’s Movement S. Anandi

85 Cendi  Z. Faizun

86 Sweden Genombrott Cooperative Consultants Jerker Thorsell

87 Svenska Livs Sten-Olof Svensson

88 Fair Trade Center Charlie Aronsson Project leader-makeITfair

89 Switzerland International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) Jenny Holdcroft Director, ICT,Electrical & Electronics,Aerospace

90 Taiwan CEFC Taipei  Paul Jobin Director

91 Citizen of the earth          Richie Leu

92 Hua-Mei Chiu

93 Environmental Jurists Association Echo Lin Secretary General

94 Green Consumers Foundation Jay Fang

95 Serve the People Association  Lennon Ying-Dah Wong International Coordinator

96 Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries  Nien-Yun Liu Association for former RCA employees

97 The Society of Wilderness Hanlin Li

98 Thailand Committee for Asian Women  Theint

99 Human Rights Education Institute of Burma  Myo Min Director

100 mahidol university Andy Hall

101 Migrant Workers Union Junya (Lek) Yimprasert

102 Thai Labor Campaign Patchanee Kumnak

103 Worker  Hub For Change (WH4C) Pranom Somwong

104 Tunisia Association pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la Développement Durable de Bizete Najwa Bourawi, MD President

105 U.K. Communities Against Toxics Ralph Ryder Coordinator

106 Hazards Magazine Rory O’Neill Editor

107 National Hazards Campaign Hilda Palmer Chair

108 PHASE II Grace Morrison

109 Jim McCourt

110 Public Interest Consultants Alan Watson, PhD  President

111 Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior  Jenny Chan

112 Uganda Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control  Ellady Muyambi Secretary General

113 USA AFGE 3172 Howard Egerman

114 AFSCME Council 57 Nadia Bledsoe

115 AFSCME Local 3299 Danielle Di Silverio

116 AIHA-NCS Susan Eckhardt

117 Alaska Community Action on Toxics Pamela Miller Executive Director

118 Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters Carl Wilmsen

119 American Public Health Association Tim Morse Chair, Occupational Health Section

120 AmericanHealthStudies.org Paul Connett Director

121 Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization  Linda Reinstein President & CEO

122 ATU Local 1555 Antonette Bryant

123 Basel Action Network James Puckett Executive Director

124 California Alliance for Retired Americans Tom Rankin

125 California Department of Public Health Faith Raider

126 California Labor Federation Mitch Seaman

127 Carpenter & Mayfield Constance Carpenter Attorney

128 Center for Environmental Health Michael Green

129 Chinese Progressive Association Ka Yan Cheung

130 Shawsan Liu Lead Organizer

131 City University of New York Immanuel Ness Professor

132 Communications Workers of America David LeGrande Director, Occupational Safety and Health

133 Cook County Ambulatory & Community Health Network  Rachel Rubin MD, MPH

134 CWA Carlos Celis union worker

135 CWA 9415 Karin Hart

136 Don’t Waste Arizona Stephen Brittle President

137 EBASE Aditi Vaidya

138 Environmental Health Strategy Center Michael Belliveau Executive Director

139 Filipino Community Center Mario de Mira

140 Fluoride Action Network Paul Connett, Phd Director

141 Foundation Earth Randy Hayes Executive Director

142 Friends of the Earth Brent Blackwelder President Emeritus

143 George Washington University Celeste Monforton School of Public Health & Health Services

144 Ginzberg Productions    Abby Ginzberg Producer

145 Global Community Monitor Denny Larson Executive Director

146 Hesperian Foundation Todd Jailer

147 Hesperian Health Guides  Miriam Lara

148 History of Silicon Valley Glenna Mathews Historian

149 IAM 1546 Garry Horrocks

150 International Campaign for Responsible Technology Ted Smith Coordinator

151 International Chemical Workers Union Council/UFCW  John Morawetz

152 International Longshore & Warehouse Union Peter Olney

153 Investor Environmental Health Network Sanford Lewis Counsel

154 Madera Group Kath Delaney Founder & Principal

155 Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network Garrett Brown

156 Minnesota Global Justice Project David Pellow

157 Mujeres por La Paz Diana Crowder

158 Mujeres Unidas y Activas Carmen Denis

159 Jeannette Henriquez

160 New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) Joel Shufro Executive Director

161 Occidental College Robert Gottlieb Professor

162 San Francisco City College Bill Shields Labor & Community Studies

163 San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation Anthony Stefani

164 San Jose Peace & Justice Center Charlotte Casey Board member

165 San Jose State University Alberta Jimmenez

166 Hilary Nixon, Ph.D. Department of Urban & Regional Planning

167 San Mateo County Labor Council Shelley Kessler Executive Officer

168 Santa Clara University Dr. Chad Raphael Professor & Department Chair

169 Science and Environmental Health Network Ted Schlettler

170 SEIU Local 1021 Lorraine Thiebaud

171 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Sheila Davis Executive Director

172 SUNY-Downstate School of Public Health Paul Landsbergis Associate Professor

173 Trans-Pacific Environmental Action Network  Wenling Tu

174 Tufts University Beth Rosenberg

175 UAW/Local 2324 (Retired) Albert Sargis

176 UC Berkeley Labor Center Ken Jacobs

177 UCLA   Judith Sweeny

178 UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program  Linda Delp

179 Univ Calif UPTE-CWA 9119 Joan Lichterman

180 Univ Mass Lowell Charles Levenstein Professor Emeritas of Work Environment

181 University of California Mairi Hartooni

182 Wellington Onyeawe

183 Amy Kyle School of Public Health

184 University of California Irvine BongKyoo Choi Center for Occupational and Environment Health

185 University of California, Berkeley Juliann Sum

186 Laura Stock

187 Valeria Velazquez

188 Yesenia Prudo

189 University of California, Santa Cruz Ravi Rajan

190 University of Massachusetts Lowell Craig Slatin Professor

191 Thomas Estabrook Worker Health Educator

192 USW Rhonda Little

193 WILPF San Jose CA Branch  Shirley Lin Kinoshita

194 Worksafe Amanda Hawes Board Chair

195 Gail Bateson Executive Director

196 Pattricia Quinlan

197 Tiffany Crain

* 197 signatures from 176 public interest NGOs and academia out of 39 Countries

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New victims from other companies

Recently SHARPs was able to get some information of several cancer victims of different companies from Samsung.

One of them is Kim Jin-ki, 38 year-old male worker of Magna-chip semiconductor in Cheongjoo City, which used to be a part of Hynix Semiconductor.

The press conference in front of KCOMWEL Cheongjoo office on Sep 8. The woman in center is Yim Jinsook, the wife of Kim, with the picture of Kim.

He used to work for 14 years as a maintenance engineer of an ion implanter (the facility for implantation of ion as Arsenic or Phosphorus into the silicon wafer), being exposed to various chemicals and radiation. He got leukemia last year, and several years before he got a thyroid disease too. He died on May 28, due to the graft-versus-host-reaction after a bone marrow transplantation. He had been healthy before he got the diseases from his workplace. There is no familial history of cancer in his parents and his two brothers.

SHARPs with some local activists and a labor attorney prepared his application for workers’ compensation. We made a press conference together on September 8, when his wife applied for compensation to the government.

The second victim we discovered was from the medium-sized company, Kijoo industrial Co. in Incheon City, one of the suppliers of LG and Samsung, manufacturing PCB for those big companies.

The victim’s name is Park Sung Chul, born in 1977 in China. His family used to be the “Chosun-jok”, the Korean people in China, and he recently came back to Korea and got the new nationality as a South Korean.

But he and all his family have been living as ‘migrant’ workers. That’s why Park who had graduated university of economics had to work as a blue collar worker, in the cleansing and plating process using various chemicals.

After three years of work, he got leukemia. The heart-breaking story is he had given up further treatment after three times of chemotherapy. He had been recommended bone marrow transplantation, but he refused all kinds of therapy… due to the lack of money… The family of migrant workers was too poor to support all the treatment. So he had been lying in his home under his old mother’s care, and died on September 22.

His uncle had tried to find out someone who can help them for workers’ compensation, and through a local NGO he could meet the Korean Metal Workers Union. On August 10, Korean Metal Workers Union put in a collective compensation application of many cancer victims including Park. His cancer and death show all the typical problems in workers’ claiming their right to safety and health.

SHARPs activities

The poster for the website of Bahn-dahl 2011. You can see the faces doing 'Ho~' on the left.

SHARPs has been making a concentrated series of public activities under that name every year, at the end of July. In the Korean language, the abbreviation of that name is “Bahn-Dahl” which has the same pronunciation as “half-moon”. So  the symbol of these actions is the half-moon.

This year, we’ve changed the Bahn-Dahl into six weeks of action, under the slogan of “Ho~”.

The “Ho~” means the motion of blowing a breath, usually to cool down hot food for child or to reduce pain of a wound. It can be used when people try to comfort pain of others, both physically and mentally. This slogan was made for waking up the heart of solidarity that people have within themselves, and for making a space for us to tell them what is the real pain of the victims and what must be done to relieve it.

We will gather signatures demanding;

1. to compensate the victims right now (and accept and follow the court decision and withdraw the appeal),

2. to disclose all the information. Especially, the government agencies like OSHRI in KOSHA must reveal their research results according to the law on public organizations’ disclosuree of information. Also we are demanding the right to participate in the relevant research.

3. and to take the responsibility on the part of the government and the company. Especially, the government must make   to improve the working environment to guarantee workers’ safety and health, covering all the electronic sector.

Bahn-Dahl was begun on September 21 in Suwon city where the major Samsung semiconductor factories are located. Off-line activities of Bahn-Dahl is mainly a candle-light rally once a week with some cultural performances like songs, dances, and short movies, at Busan, Suwon, Seoul, Cheonan, and Cheongju cities.

On-line activities include internet petition-signing to a demand letter, which will go on till October and finally be made into a formal protest letter to the government and Samsung.

Here are some photos of the first Bahn-Dahl in front of Suwon Station

The Lawsuits

The first group of five leukemia and lymphoma victims have filed the lawsuit against government’s refusal to compensate; all the cases went to the high court on July 14, and now are in the course of preparing documents.

The second group of victims in the lawsuit is composed of four victims with different diseases like brain tumor (Han Hyekyoung, Samsung LCD), aplastic anemia (You Myoungwha, Samsung semiconductor), multiple sclerosis (Lee Heejin, Samsung semiconductor), and malignant brain cancer (Lee Yoonjeong, Samsung semiconductor); they are each in the course of court processes. Two of them, You Myoungwha and Lee Yoonjeong, are from the same department of Burn-in test in Samsung semiconductor factory at Onyang City.

The press conference of second group lawsuit is at the Seoul administrative court. (from the left) Han Hyekyoung (brain tumor, Samsung LCD), her mother, two lawyers, You Youngjong, the father of You Myounghwa (aplastic anemia, Samsung semiconductor), Jeong Heesoo, the husband of Lee Yoonjeong (brain cancer, Samsung semiconductor).

The Victims

At present, SHARPs has gathered the information of about 150 victims, among which there are around 50 deaths. The exact number needs to be calculated and updated again.

The number who have applied for national workers’ compensation through SHARPs is 21, including one Magna-chip worker. Of these 21 cases, 18 of them have been decided by KCOMWEL  to NOT be compensated, and others are still in the process of decision.

Lee Yoon-jeong, who had been diagnosed with malignant brain cancer in 2010 and been sentenced to be able to live only one year by the doctor, fell again recently. Her cancer couldn’t be removed fully. She gets chemotherapy again now, but the prognosis doesn’t seem to be good. We are praying for her survival with the least suffering. Her age is 31 now.

Han Haekyoung, the severely disabled women after removal of a huge tumor from her cerebellum since 2005, has been hospitalized in ‘Green Hospital’ for free to get rehabilitation treatment. However she and her mother have been suffering from poverty because none of them can work for money. SHARPs has been supporting the least money for their life every month for more than two years, by collecting money from many nameless contributors.

As the number of victims becomes bigger, the types and depth of pain of them which must be shared by the whole society become more serious. Many of the victims and their families need either economical or psychological support, or both.

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In a blow to Samsung Electronics, a court ruled yesterday that the deaths of two employees at Samsung’s semiconductor plant should be considered an industrial accident and that Samsung should compensate their families accordingly.

The two workers died of leukemia, and their families filed for industrial accident compensation with Korean Workers’ Compensation and Welfare (KWCW) three years ago, claiming their illness had been caused by exposure to harmful elements at the plant.

But KWCW refused the claim, saying it saw no direct link between leukemia and the semiconductor plant. That prompted the families to file a lawsuit in January of last year.

The Seoul Administrative Court said in a ruling yesterday: “Although it is unclear exactly how Hwang and Lee caught leukemia, it can be construed that their exposures to dangerous chemicals and radiation were catalysts, at the very least. Thus it’s safe to conclude there is a link between leukemia and the workplace.”

The court added that research by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency proves that workers at chip facilities have higher risk of cancers of the lymphatic system and leukemia, which shows environmental factors had an effect on their diseases.

But the court did not acknowledge such a link for two other workers and a family member of a late worker, citing a lack of evidence.

Samsung said it plans to appeal. A Samsung official told Yonhap, “The ruling goes against the results of investigations by a state-approved organization on semiconductor plants’ occupational environment,” adding that it will soon have results from another independent study.

The civic group Banollim, formed to protect rights of semiconductor workers, claims 20 workers at the plant suffered from leukemia or cancer, with nine deaths since 1998.

Samsung maintains that there are no such risks at its plant, citing an investigation by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency in 2007 and 2008, which concluded it’s unlikely that the plant caused the diseases.

In June, Samsung said that it commissioned an independent, yearlong safety study to examine health risks at its semiconductor plant, which will be led by Environ, an environment and health consultancy, and carried out with input from some 20 academic experts.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

(original article: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2937990)

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Message to readers from SHARPs:

On 23 June, the final decision of the Seoul Administrative court on the lawsuit raised by five blood cancer victims in Samsung semiconductor factories in South Korea was announced.

The judge concluded that two cases of leukemia in workers who had been operators in Giheung factory, Hwang Yumi and Lee Sookyoung, can be regarded as related to the working conditions, even though there is no concrete evidence of expsure to carcinogen.

And the judge accepted almost all the arguments of the plaintiffs on the work-relatedness.

So we, SHARPs, welcome this decision of the court, but we cannot but emphasize the limitation of it.

The explanation of the court on their decision of not accepting the other three cases as occupational diseases still show a kind of serious limitation.

We will point those things out clearly as soon as possible when we get the document of final decision, and continue to fight to overcome those limitations for the right of workers.

Please share this good news with many people, and send some soludarity message to us, the victims and the activists of SHARPs, who decided to fight together until all the victims  can achieve their right to their health!


Following are related media reports:

Court orders compensation for Samsung employees who died of leukemia

(from Korea Herald)

SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) — A Seoul court ordered compensation for the families of two young Samsung Electronics employees who died of leukemia, recognizing for the first time a link between leukemia and working in a computer chip-making line.

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the families, who requested the court annul the Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Services’ 2009 decision not to pay compensation and funeral expenses for the deaths. The state-run worker welfare agency delivered the decision, refusing to acknowledge their deaths as workplace disasters.

The latest ruling reversed the agency’s decision, acknowledging the influence of the working conditions at Samsung Electronics on the workers’ deaths.

“Although the cause of the employees’ leukemia has yet to be determined clearly on a scientific basis, it is presumable that their constant exposure to toxic chemicals and ionizing radiation had caused or, at least, expedited the illness,” a panel of judges said. “It is fit to say there is a link between their leukemia and their careers.”

One of the two female workers, surnamed Hwang, died in 2007 at the age of 22 due to acute myeloid leukemia after being diagnosed with the illness in 2005 following her two years of work at a production line, based in Gyeonggi Province, for wafers used to make semiconductors.

The second employee, surnamed Lee, had a 10-year career at the same factory before dying of the same type of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 30.

“Given that they carried out cleaning duties on unautomated production facilities at the most worn-out place of the No. 3 bay of the No. 3 line, they seemed to have been exposed to a greater influence of toxic materials,” the judge panel said, referring to the same spot they both worked at.

Similar lawsuits against the agency and the company are expected to follow the court decision, which is the first to tie working conditions at the world’s largest memory chip maker to employee deaths.

Meanwhile, the administrative court dismissed three similar requests by the family of another dead worker and two former employees, each suffering from lymphoma and leukemia.

The court did not acknowledge the work-illness link in the cases of the two ailing people and the husband of the dead woman, who all worked at different production lines.

Samsung, which has strongly denied that its production lines pose risks of cancers, refused to accept the Seoul court’s ruling.

“The ruling shows different results from previous investigations conducted by a state agency,” the company’s spokesman Park Chun-ho said by phone. “As the ruling is not final, we will try to clear suspicions through continuing trials.”

He added that Samsung will announce this summer the result of a one-year investigation of semiconductor lines that’s currently under way by a group of overseas experts.

(original article at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110623000960)


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