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Viewfinder, an Al Jazeera program showcasing independent talent worldwide, on Aug. 27 broadcast A Father’s Protest, a 25-minute documentary directed by Ligyeong Hong on Hwang Sang-ki, the father of Hwang Yumi who died in March 2007 of the leukemia she had developed while working at a Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. chip plant.

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A series of protests and petitions has stopped Seoul National University from hiring Hwang Chang-gyu, former semiconductor chief of Samsung, as visiting scholar.

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.”

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Seoul National University students and SHARPS voice opposition to the appointment of Hwang Chang-gyu, former CEO of Samsung’s semiconductor unit, as a visiting professor.

SHARPS and students activists at Seoul National University have formed a task force to thwart the university’s month-long attempt to appoint a former executive of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. to the Sociology department as a visiting professor.

On Jan. 14, the activists and bereaved family members of Samsung blood-disorder victims rallied at the administration building of SNU, calling for the country’s top university to rescind plans to appoint Hwang Chang-gyu, CEO of Samsung’s semiconductor unit in 2004-2008, to the prestigious position.

Hwang’s Law

In 2002, as CTO of Samsung, Mr. Hwang could claim a global reputation when he announced that Samsung would continue to double memory density every year—he dubbed this process Hwang’s Law.  Indeed, Samsung met this goal each year between 2002 and 2008.   However, Samsung has since been unable to develop a viable technology to live up to Hwang’s Law.

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Hwang Chang-gyu, former CEO of Samsung’s semiconductor unit, does not know much about sociology but was once good at doubling memory density.

What really drove Hwang’s Law was Samsung’s belief in speed and volume.  As technology blogger Chris Edwards rightly predicted in 2007 regarding the end of Hwang’s Law:  “What is more likely is that Samsung will use the process developed for the 64Gb memory to make cheaper 8, 16 and 32Gb devices come 2009 when this process is meant to [enter] volume production.”

Hwang’s Deadly Law

Samsung’s young, mostly female, employees have worked excessively long hours under hazardous conditions to make the staggering speed and volume of chip production possible.  As of March 2012, SHARPS has profiled 155 workers who contracted various forms of leukemia, multiple sclerosis and aplastic anemia after employment in the electronics industry in South Korea.  More than 50 percent are former Samsung employees.  As of June, 2012, of the 155, 63 have died.

“Hwang Chang-gyu belongs in prison, not college,” said Hwang Sang-ki, the father of Hwang Yumi. His daughter 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.   “Hwang Chang-gyu violated laws and left numerous workers ill and busted union drives,” the 58-year-old father said at the rally.

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Hwang Sang-ki, the father of a Samsung leukemia victim, Hwang Yumi: “Hwang Chang-gyu belongs in prison, not college.”

Not a Sociologist

The 60-year-old Mr. Hwang, with a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Massachusetts, has no credentials as a sociologist.  And his post-Samsung career is not impressive at all.  In 2010, Mr. Hwang was named National Chief Technology Officer, a newly created government position responsible for selecting and supporting an emerging strategic industry.  An inquiry by lawmakers discovered that in fiscal 2012 his office spent KRW4.7 billion (U$444 thousand) on remuneration versus KRW12 billion (U$1.1 million) on a total of three R&D projects.

To date, the SNU administration has categorically dismissed repeated requests by students and activists to disclose the rationale behind Mr. Hwang’s appointment.  The university’s personnel committee is scheduled to meet on Jan. 17 to finalize its decision on Mr. Hwang’s hiring.

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In April 2010, Dutch fund manager APG Asset Management and seven other global investors jointly engaged Samsung, following the death of Park Ji-yeon, a 23-year-old semiconductor assembler of the company.

Global activist funds have taken issue with the employment of child labor by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the Hankyoreh, South Korea’s independent daily, reported Sept. 18.

“We sent an inquiry to Samsung in August when allegations of Samsung’s use of child labor in China first surfaced,” the newspaper quoted a source of APG Asset Management, of the Netherlands, as saying.  “Employment of child labor won’t be tolerated.  If the allegations turn out to be true we will discontinue investment [in Samsung].”

Confirming receipt of the inquiry, Samsung spokesperson Park Cheon-ho told the Hankyoreh, “APG and other institutional investors requested us to explain the allegations against us.”  He added, “we said there is no child labor [at Samsung], but there is an issue of excessive overtime, which we will examine and address.”

This is not the first time APG, the world’s third-largest pension administrator by assets, has raised concerns about poor labor practices at Samsung.  In April 2010, the Dutch fund manager and seven other global investors jointly engaged Samsung, following the death of Park Ji-yeon, a 23-year-old semiconductor assembler of the company.

However, the effects of the institutional investors’ engagement were limited.  APG said afterwards: “The outcome was not altogether positive.” The institutional investors said, “From the day our engagement started, reports trickled in of Samsung’s behind-the-scenes negotiating with its ailing ex-employees and the families of the deceased.  Local media reported that the company had tried to buy off the case.”

APG concluded, “All in all, we are not satisfied with Samsung’s response so far.”

And young workers have continued to die. During the two years since the global institutional investors’ joint intervention in 2010, the number of victims of Samsung’s leukemia/blood disorder clusters has more than doubled to 56 from 22.

With rising concerns globally about Samsung’s negligence of human rights, SHARPS’s campaign is entering into a new stage.

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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]:           

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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.

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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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A civic organization member in support of the human rights of workers in the semiconductor industry holds a signboard during a one-person demonstration mourning the death Park Ji-hyeon, a Samsung Electronics employee who passed away due to complications from leukemia, in front of the Samsung Headquarters in Seoul‘s Seocho neighborhood, April 2.

By Heo Jae-hyeon

A number of people have come forward and claimed that Samsung Electronics has offered large settlements to employees and their families in order to persuade them to drop industrial accident claims. Employees filed the claims after contracting diseases such as leukemia while working in the company’s semiconductor and liquid crystal display (LCD) plants. Surviving family members of employees who have already died from diseases, as well as employees currently suffering from disease and their family members, have claimed that Samsung has offered hundreds of millions of won in settlements in order to persuade them to drop their industrial accident claims and terminate contact with civic organizations.

Meeting with journalists on July 5, the mother of Park Ji-yeon, an employee who died on March 31 after contracting leukemia in 2007 while working at a Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant, said that she received a settlement of around 400 million Won ($333,605) from Samsung in early April and that she dropped her industrial accident lawsuit in mid-May. Park’s mother, identified by the surname Hwang, said, “Samsung instructed me not to meet with groups like the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and to move away so that members of civic organizations would be unable to contact me.”

According to accounts from her family members, Samsung Electronics secretly proposed the settlement to them just before Park passed away. Her case was in the middle of administrative litigation after the Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service (KComWel) ruled in 2009 that it would not recognize the case as an industrial accident.
“The settlement offered by Samsung Electronics was in the neighborhood of 400 million Won,” a family member said. “It included 380 million Won in pure settlement, including 50 million Won in insurance money, along with around 20 million Won in funeral expenses. As a condition for the settlement, Samsung asked that we give up the industrial accident suit and that we not have any contact with civic organizations.”

Park’s family faced a difficult choice. The costs of her two years and nine months of treatment alone was more than 100 million Won, and they were in debt by some 50 million Won. In the end, they decided to take the money offered by Samsung and drop the lawsuit. The money arrived in Hwang’s Nonghyup bank account on April 2, an hour before Park’s ashes were scattered in the waters off Sokcho. In her bankbook, the name of the sender was clearly printed out: “Samsung Electronics.”

Hwang felt belated remorse for taking the money from Samsung. After reaching the settlement amid a difficult situation, she canceled the lawsuit and cut off contact with the media, she said, but “after paying off all the debts incurred from her treatment, I felt empty inside, and I could not shake the feeling that I had let Ji-yeon down.”

“They gave us money in order to bury our child’s death away in the ground,” Hwang said. “If Samsung Electronics bears moral responsibility, it is only right for it to give consolation money, but why make us drop the industrial accident suit and prevent us from contacting civic organizations? They are using the weakness of poor people to buy them off with money in order to conceal the truth. We were used by Samsung.”

More accounts have surfaced to indicate that Samsung Electronics has persuaded not only Park’s family, but also other sick employees and family members of deceased employees to drop industrial accident claims. This fact was attested to in detail by the family members of Han Hye-kyeong, a 31-year-old Samsung Electronics LCD plant employee suffering from a brain tumor, and Yeon Jae-wook, a Samsung Electronics LCD plant employee who passed away in 2009 from a mediastinal tumor.

A Samsung Electronics official came to see Yeon’s family in mid-March, just after KComWel ruled that it would not recognize his illness as an industrial accident. His family was planning to continue the legal battle by requesting another KComWel judgment together with the civic organization Banollim. At that time, however, an official with Samsung Electronics’ Environment & Safety Group came by and offered to provide assistance with the industrial accident recognition process. The official also offered a settlement in the amount of 120 million Won. Yeon’s family turned the official down, however, and said they would request the judgment with Banollim. The visiting official said curtly, “If you work with Banollim, we cannot give you any money.”

Kim Si-nyeo, the 54-year-old mother of Han Hye-kyeong, received a similar offer in early June. She was called up with settlement offers by a Samsung Electronics higher-up and an ordinary employee whose names she does not recall. Kim currently endures very difficult living conditions, having moved not long ago from a 17 million Won deposit rental unit to a 5 million Won monthly rental unit in order to arrange the money for her daughter to receive treatment in her battle with a brain tumor. She also sold off the small restaurant she previously ran. Now she has no income. The settlement offer from Samsung was very tempting, but Kim turned it down.

“Samsung became a social problem, leaving my daughter exposed to that dangerous work environment, and its improper practice of trying to cover that up with money needs to be fixed,” she said.

Samsung Electronics has denied the recent flood of claims. A human resources team official who was in contact with Hwang refused an interview request from the Hankyoreh, calling it “burdensome.”

“It is true that we met with family members of people who were fighting disease or had passed away, but we merely discussed assistance with livelihood expenses, and we never told anyone to drop an industrial accident claim,” said the Samsung Electronics public relations office, who instead sent an e-mail response to the Hankyoreh. “We have recently, formulated criteria for assisting people in critical condition and are offering additional support.”

But the family members who met with Samsung officials tell a different story. Hwang said, “Samsung explicitly told me to drop the industrial accident suit, and I dropped it.”

“Samsung is lying,” she repeated.

“Samsung does not say outright that you cannot file an industrial accident claim,” said Yeon Mi-jeong, the younger sister of Yeon Jae-wook. “But what does it mean when they say they cannot give you consolation money if you file an industrial accident claim through a civic organization?”

Kim Ki-young, a former Samsung Electronics section chief who retired in early May after contracting Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare disease, after working for around a decade as an engineer at the company, met on April 1 with a company official and a section chief identified by the surname Lee. Kim asked Lee, who was visiting him at his home in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, to cooperate in his industrial accident claim. The response, however, was not favorable.

According to a recording of the conversation between Kim and the Samsung official, the latter recommended that Kim resign and said, “A condition of receiving consolation money is that you not file any civil, criminal, or administrative lawsuit.” Kim responded by saying, “It is an unfair demand to say that we cannot hold the company responsible for the disease any more after receiving recognition of an industrial accident.”

Why does Samsung Electronics have its feelers up over the question of the recognition of industrial accident claims by employees? According to Banollim, the company is engaged in “petty ploys” to conceal its industrial accidents. Labor attorney Lee Jong-ran said, “When Samsung outwardly says that it has faith in its plants’ safety, while secretly persuading people to take settlements, that is an attempt to cover up an industrial disaster.”

Kim Eun-gi, head of the KCTU labor safety bureau, said that having Park Ji-yeon’s administrative suit dropped was part of a carefully plotted strategy by Samsung Electronics. According to Kim, Park’s case had the highest odds of victory among the six employees who had received industrial accident non-recognition judgments in May 2009.

“Samsung probably took into account the effect it would have on the industrial accident claims of the other workers if Ms. Park’s case was recognized as an industrial accident,” Kim said.

Original article at: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/ENGISSUE/74/430105.html

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This article published on a US tech blog reported about the leukemia cases found in Samsung in Korea. Many of the comments (while they quickly degenerated into insults) asked questions about the validity of the data, and about the danger or not, of working in an electronics factory. Much of the data to answer these doubts and questions are already available in Korea. In the future translation into English of that data will be made available on this blog.

22 workers have contracted disease

Samsung Electronics and may other makers of memory and microchips around the world sometimes use chemicals and other materials in the construction of their products that are toxic and could be lethal to humans if exposed in large doses. Samsung has been battling allegations that some workers in its plants in China have contracted cancer from exposure into the work place.

Samsung has been under pressure by activist groups to take responsibility for the incidents of workers contracting leukemia or lymphoma. So far, 22 workers from the chip plants Samsung operates have been diagnosed with lymphoma or leukemia between 1998 and 2010. Ten of these workers have died because of the diseases so far. Samsung has long maintained that the chemicals it uses in the production of chips at the plants have not caused the cancers in workers.

……..

Source: http://www.dailytech.com/Samsung+Factories+Allegedly+Linked+to+Leukemia+in+Workers/article18137.htm

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This is what we know happened. On March 31, 2010, Park Ji-Yeon, who worked at Samsung’s On-Yang semiconductor plant in South Korea, died of leukemia at age 23. According to Korean news accounts, Park began working at the Samsung plant in 2004 and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2007.

And it was in 2007 that a 22 year-old woman named Yu-mi Hwang who had worked at Samsung’s Gijeung semiconductor plant since just before graduating from high school died – also of leukemia.2010-04-14-IMG_3909photoofSookyoungLee.JPG A year later, another woman who worked in the same plant in South Korea and shared a work bay with Yu-mi died, also of leukemia, at age 30. …

See here for the article in the Huffington Post by Elizabeth Grossman, “Were They Canaries? The Too Short Lives of Park Ji-Yeon and Yu-mi Hwang” – deaths in Samsung Semiconductor factories, due to leukemia.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-grossman/were-they-canaries-the-to_b_536726.html

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