Race Against Time for Ill Former Samsung Workers in South Korea

Mega-conglomerate Samsung faces multiple lawsuits in several countries for their notorious labor violations. But in the tech giant's home country of South Korea, where close family and business ties works in its favor, their former employees suffering from work-related illnesses have an uphill battle ahead against Samsung.

But luckily, there were some positive developments made this month. 

Movie poster/still photo of "Another Family" crowd-sourced movie revealing truth of Samsung's leukemia victim, Fair Use

Movie poster/still photo of “Another Family”, a crowd-sourced movie revealing truth of Samsung's leukemia victim, Fair Use Image

On October 18, a Seoul court ruled in favor of a Samsung labor worker who died from acute leukemia, confirming the disease was caused by the company's harsh and unsafe working conditions.

In early October, a crowd-sourced film titled “Another Family” (trailer here [ko]), which depicts workers who came down with leukemia and other rare diseases when they worked at Samsung factories, made international headlines.

At a National Assembly audit hearing on October 22, more revelations were made about Samsung's unapologetic attitudes towards victims, and several lawmakers cornered [ko] Samsung for forcing labor workers who had no idea what chemicals they had been handling “to provide evidence themselves of how they developed leukemia”. Samsung has apparently adopted a defensive stance in litigation – instead of actively disproving the theory that leukemia was caused by their working environment, they have focused on nullifying the victims’ claim for lack of evidence.

This has enraged net users as well:

More than 80 people have suffered and died from terminal diseases, but Samsung is not budging an inch. Seriously, do the victims have to find evidence themselves why they got leukemia? It should be Samsung who should provide evidence that the leukemia is not work-related. There is not one, but many victims. This is the company that makes trillions of profits in their business quarter and calls itself ‘Another Family’ [in its advertising slogan]

The Court ruled that the leukemia at a Samsung semiconductor factory was an ‘industrial accident’ [confirming Samsung is to be blamed for the accident]. Will it affect other lawsuits as well? If Samsung really want to become a true “national” company representing Korea, they should acknowledge their industrial accidents and should work on improving their work environments.

This week I read the book, “Another Family Discarded by Samsung”, and I could not stop crying. Since my friend showed interest to it, I lent it to them and they asked me whether this is all true… Samsung is a mega-conglomerate, but we still need to find out the truth. Right after I heard about the court ruling confirming it as an industrial accident, I felt so relieved.

Time is running short for victims – currently, nine lawsuits are pending [ko], and out of 15 victims who filed lawsuits, six have already died. The total number of former Samsung employees who reported leukemia and serious diseases reaches over 200 [ko] (80 have passed away), and even after their illnesses were proven to be work-related, they have to endure [ko] long bureaucratic process and minor legal issues ahead.

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