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Samsung has officially apologised and promised to pay compensation to a number of employees who contracted leukemia and other incurable diseases after exposure to hazardous chemical at its semiconductor facilities. The statement is a vindication of several activist groups' efforts over the last seven years, which began soon after a 22 year old worker named Hwang Yu-mi succumbed to leukemia after exposure to toxic chemicals at a Samsung chip plant in Suwon, South Korea in 2007.

Samsung has vehemently denied any wrongdoing until now, and although a Seoul court decreed in 2011 that there was a high probability that Yu-mi's illness was contracted at Samsung's facilities, there wasn't any concrete evidence. Bloomberg Businessweek used the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 to shed more light on the story and bring to attention the hazardous working conditions at Samsung's facilities.

Although Samsung is still not accepting any direct responsibility, CEO Kwon Oh-hyun released a statement in which he mentioned that the workers along with their families would be compensated.

Several workers at our production facilities suffered from leukemia and other incurable diseases, which also lead to some deaths. We've failed to pay careful attention to the pain and difficulty of them and their families. We will make appropriate compensation to those who were affected and their families. We should have settled the issue earlier, and we are deeply heartbroken that we failed to do so and express our deep apology.

Source: Yonhap News


Reader comments

Samsung 'deeply heartbroken' over handling of worker leukemia dispute


It's stupid that it took so long, and even then, monetary compensation won't undo the damage done.

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They'll pay out, but the fine print will say that both parties agree Samsung did no wrong and was not responsible, and then put a gag order on recipient or face litigation to get a check.

Just playing a bit of devil's advocate, but in truth you can. Dead or alive bounties, court settlements, etc. IIRC Bin Laden's head was worth $50 million. Just the head, nothing attached. I agree it's likely Samsung just trying to cut their loses, but it's better late than never and I'm sure the families will find some degree of comfort in their compensation and Samsung admitting some guilt publicly.

Sure you can American corporations,insurance companies and government do it all the time and get away with it.

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Area 51 workers that were forced to burn toxic materials with jet fuel in open pits on site have been in litigation from the 90's to get the Government just to pay their medical bills for all the crazy sickness' from working their, most have died now.

not to mention the troops who fought in Iraq who are claiming the government used them as lab rats to test new drugs to combat chemical weapons

Awe, that's so nice. They are deeply heartbroken only after years of fighting a losing battle. I think I'll go out and buy a phone from them after hearing how gracious they have been to these families.

Koreans...they are nice. Apple would never admit to such a thing. Apple would probably sue the workers for getting sick.

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+1. I'm laughing way too hard right now as I can totally see that happening.

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No. They would say the workers handled the chemicals wrong while showing images of Jobs demonstrating the correct way to handle them.

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You and all those continuing this "joke" should be ashamed of yourselves.

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As always, some foreign worker gets sick to make a shiny new toy for the "first world" consumer.

The panda has spoken

Problem is, south Korea isn't a dirt poor, third world hellhole where "employees" are forced to work 18 hour shifts for pennies. They're a developed, fairly rich country with a heavy consumer base themselves. This kind of thing shouldn't happen at all, but especially not somewhere like south Korea.

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Your logic is flawed on this one. South Korea is a developed, "first world" country by any measure.

Maybe you need to find a new hobby, because you suck at "activism" - your statement made you look ignorant, not compassionate or moral.

Literally had the exact same thought, it's so not funny because it's true that it's almost funny...

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oh yeah, the situation overall is not funny in the least but samsung's response over the course of several years to end with this half-assed apology is a joke.

Interesting and sad read from Bloomberg Businessweek. I'd like to watch the "Empire of Shame" documentary if available with English subtitles. And this is shameful, indeed. Samsung handled the matter so poorly that there really is no way to truly compensate affected employees and their families.

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Free S view covers for all of the involved families(Galaxy phone not included)

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Close. They gave each dead employee a free S-View casket that allows viewing of the occupants upper body without opening the casket...and it would be made of slick plastic.

Leukemia is no joke. If they really care, they should also test all their past and current employees.

That's all well and good but has Samsung (and other OEMs for that matter) taken steps to make working environments safer so that this doesn't happen again? That would be the most important info for me.

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Also what are the industry best practices for limiting chemical exposure for semiconductor workers, and were they violated at the time? Have they improved since? Given the size of Samsung, it is not a statistical impossibility for 58 Samsung workers, including 2 on the same line, to get leukemia. As a corporation it is of course in Samsung's best interest to fight the worker's compensation claims (and pay the families under the table) since worker's compensation is basically acknowledging a link between the chemical exposure and leukemia when the epidemiological studies are not definitive. At some point, you would just hope for these corporations with large coffers to not let their corporate interests stop them from doing the right thing for the people who have sacrificed for them, and not be corrupt, terrible jerks.

All very true. At a certain size of workforce, it would be a statistical impossibility that no one would have cancer or some other serious illness. It is important to note that even the plantiffs in the original lawsuit admit that there was no evidence that the employees contracted the illness as a result of working conditions.

That said, working in a manufacturing plant is generally dangerous. There's all kinds of safety stuff that gets put in place (at least the US) but there's still a high probability for something to simply go horribly wrong. I worked in a plastics refinery for a while, years back, working a grinder. Basically, two big metal discs with interlocking "teeth" that ground plastic pellets into a powder. One day, one of the discs "exploded". Wasn't the fault of anyone at the plant, just a defect in the metal of the disc. One of the pieces (a triangle about 3" wide at the top, and about 7" long) went through the wall of the mill, and then through the warehouse wall about 20 feet up. We never found it. If I had been standing there when it happened, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be sitting here right now.

Of course, if he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2007 there's a good chance this poor bastard isn't even around to hear this half-arsed almost apology. Very bad show, Samsung.

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It's much cheaper to pay off the families and not admit guilt than to have the Samsung name dragged through the press with this attached to it. Seems someone would have mentioned this to Samsung a few years back.

no matter what happens in a corporation , way to settle is a paycheck. Seems like justice is not so blind. Yes, no one intended to cause deadly diseases or deaths, but there is a lot of responsibility (or lack of) in big industries. Many times, executives in order to save money, looked over safety issues ...
If one ends up killing someone in a car accident during his wreck less driving he will go to jail for manslaughter. How many times we saw that happen to any Corp Official, huh ?!

VZW Moto X

They are only 'deeply heartbroken' that it went public. Samsung could care less about these folks. They're just doing this because the world is watching now, not just a handful of lowly employees that are expendable.

Just compensating the families is not enough. Samsung and all other manufacturers need to stop using the poisonous and toxic benzene which pretty much guarantees their workers will get leukemia. Stop using harmful chemicals! There are substitutes!

I always love it when people complain that companies don't pay their workers enough, try to use cheap methods, and then complain that the company's stuff costs too much.