Court Orders Compensation in Deaths of Samsung Plant Workers

A Korean court has ordered Samsung Electronics to compensate the family of two former employees who died of leukemia, ruling that there was likely a link between their deaths and exposure to chemicals at the company’s semiconductor plants. The ruling by Judge Jin Chang-su overturns a 2009 decision by the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service to not pay survivors benefits and funeral costs following the deaths of former employees Hwang Yu-mi, who died at 23, and Lee Suk-yeong, 30. The court found that, even if the cause of leukemia “has not been clearly ascertained in medical terms, it is possible to deduce that the leukemia arose or was expedited through her continued exposure to various hazardous chemicals” at the semiconductor plant. Hwang died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2005, two years after she started working on a chip-making production line at Samsung’s plant in Gyeonggi Province. Lee spent ten years at the same factory before dying of the same type of leukemia in 2006. While Samsung has denied any link, Yale Environment 360 has reported that workers groups in South Korea say an unusually high number of employees at the company’s semiconductor and other electronics plants have contracted serious diseases.