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Samsung’s leukemia victim urges Banolim to end fight for its own survival

A former Samsung Electronics worker who contracted leukemia after working at the company’s chip plant, urged Banolim, an advocacy group that has led related compensations talks, to stop its politically-intended fight and take more care of cancer-stricken victims and their families. 

“About 150 people have applied to get compensations and some 110 of them have been compensated. We think the compensation process is nearing its end,” Kim Eun-kyung said Wednesday in her message posted on a Samsung website. She was diagnosed with leukemia nine years after working at a Samsung semiconductor plant in Onyang, South Chungcheong Province, between 1991 and 1996.

“But Banolim continues to fight for its own survival, not for victims,” she added.

In August last year, a three-party mediation committee consisting of Samsung, Banolim and the Family Leukemia Countermeasure Committee, another group representing affected workers and their families, reached an agreement to create a 100 billion won ($85.8 million) fund to compensate victims.

The agreement, including Samsung’s sincere apology and its efforts to prevent diseases at its manufacturing plants, marked a turning point in an almost decade-old dispute between Samsung and some 200 former workers who had fallen ill after working at the company’s chip and display factories.

Following the agreement, the compensation process started in September. Kwon Oh-hyun, one of the company’s three CEOs and head of its chip business division, sent a letter of apology to individual victims and their families.

But Banolim has continued demonstrations outside Samsung’s head office, claiming they had not yet been offered a sincere apology and that compensation standards should be set by victims, not by Samsung.

“I didn’t expect a breakthrough to be made in our stalled talks. But I, like other victims, was greatly impressed when CEO Kwon Oh-hyun apologized first in 2014,” said Kim, one of the first workers who reported her illness to the company. She is now working for the family-led group.

“It is true that we were not 100 percent satisfied with the results of the talks. But we have to make a concession to reach an agreement.”

She urged Banolim to end its fight and join an independent ombudsman committee that will soon start working to monitor preventive measures taken at Samsung plants.

“Banolim has no intention to end the fight because it is the reason for it to exist,” she said. “Its demonstrations do nothing for victims. It would be better for them to visit victims and hear their voices.”

By Lee Ji-yoon (