Park Ji-yeon, a young worker from Samsung semiconductor factory in Onyang, dies on March 31 at the age of 23 of leukemia. Korean unions and SHARPS activists insist it is an occupational cancer and demand accountability of the company.
SOUTH KOREA: On March 31 Park Ji-yeon, a young woman of 23, died of leukemia. She contracted a blood cancer at the age of 20 after working at the Samsung semiconductor factory in Onyang.
Unfortunately Park Ji-yeon's death is not unique. Many other workers who used to work for Samsung died with similar diagnoses. Activists have gathered information that 23 Samsung workers so far have suffered from hematopoietic cancer like leukemia or lymphoma, and at least 9 workers among them lost their lives. Instead of conducting a proper investigation of the occupational nature of the deaths and adopting adequate prevention measures, the Korean government has chosen to support the big corporation and join its efforts to silence the growing evidence of a cancer cluster among electronics manufacturing workers at Samsung in Korea exposed to toxic chemicals.
On April 2, following a funeral ceremony for Park Ji-yeon, Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry (SHARPS), a coalition of trade unions including IMF Korean affiliate KMWU and NGOs, organized a press conference at Samsung headquarters in Seoul, calling the company to account for semiconductor related cancer deaths.
The police broke up the press conference and detained seven activists, who shouted to Samsung: "You are responsible for the death of Ji-yeon Park". Later in the morning on April 5 they were all released without any charges being brought against them.
On March 1, several activist groups launched a petition to alert the international community to how evidence of the hazards of semiconductor manufacturing has been silenced. SHARPS, Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Asian Network for the Rights Of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV), and International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) are addressing the petition to the President of the Korean Government Gee-sung Choi, the CEO of Samsung Electronics, the Korean Minister of Labor, the President of the Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service and the CEO of the Korea Occupational Safety & Health Agency. The petition can be read and signed here:
To learn more, check out also SHARPS video at: