The industrial giants that call China and Korea home have never seem to have a good reputation for taking care of their employees – there are numerous stories of under aged workers and deplorable working conditions. With no real Governmental guidelines or laws to force the companies to comply with health concerns or human rights, they seem to do whatever they want to make more money. Putting in safeguards and maintaining the safety of employees as well as paying them a fair wage costs money – money the company and Government would rather keep than pay out for preventative measures.
Such is the basis for a movie released on February 6 called ‘Another Promise’, and allegations that Samsung put pressure on the local media not to publish articles about the incident – the company is their largest advertiser. The movie follows the victim’s father, a Gwangwon Province based taxi driver, as he fights his legal battles to win some sort of recognition for his daughter’s illness and death. In 2011, a Seoul court ruled that two cases of leukemia suffered by former Samsung factory workers, one of which was his daughter, could be regarded as an industrial accident.
The movie starts out with a proud father so happy for his young daughter’s new job at Samsung’s semiconductor plant at the biggest company in the country. However, but after five years, she is diagnosed with cancer and dies in the back of his cab on the way to the hospital. After finding out that her co-worker also died from the same illness he said:
“I didn’t believe Samsung when they told me Yu-mi’s illness could not have been caused by her daily contact with those chemicals. I talked to experts and took my findings to newspapers, TV companies and magazines, but they all said the same thing, ‘you can’t possibly win a fight with Samsung.”
To avoid possible legal action the movie’s title was changed from “Another Family,” a well-known Samsung advertising slogan, and the onscreen electronics company is called Jinsung. The director was told not to do the film for fear of ruining his career, but he insisted on doing to so the voices of the workers would be heard – about 200 workers have made allegations against Samsung and other chip makers, and of the three dozen Samsung workers that filed suit, only 2 were successful in court. Samsung said in a statement to the Guardian:
“Protecting the health and safety of our employees is, and has always been, our top priority. As such, we are deeply saddened by the loss of former members of the Samsung family and are concerned about those who are battling illness. Our semiconductor facilities abide by the highest employee and environmental regulations worldwide. We will continue to affirm our commitments to maintaining the highest possible employee health and safety standards for everyone in the Samsung family.”
Samsung offered the father $1 million dollars in order to drop his claims, but he refused the deal, citing that he had to get his daughter’s story out for others to hear. He refuses to criticized others that have accepted Samsung’s offers of financial help in exchange for dropping their claims, but he said that his silence cannot be bought. After the Verge published their article, Samsung issued this statement:
“We categorically deny any allegation that Samsung tries to exert influence over media coverage, including of this movie. The fact is that the movie has already been widely covered by domestic and global media since before its release in early February. The allegation concerning the article in question is clearly groundless.”