(NaturalSociety) Apparently, U.S. government agencies and corporations aren’t the only ones who use their influence to downplay important health concerns in the working environment. South Korean cell phone and electronics mega-corporation Samsung, ranking in the top 40 of Fortune 500 companies, and accounting for over $172 billion in annual sales, just released a public apology for the dangerous chemicals workers in their factories were exposed to, causing 56 documented cases of leukemia.
In a public statement, Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun said:
“. . .several workers at our production facilities suffered from leukemia and other incurable diseases, which also led to some deaths.”
It was only after activists drew attention to Samsung’s use of dangerous chemicals and dangerous working conditions that the company said that they would make sure the appropriate families receive compensation for their loved ones’ health concerns. In a rare public apology, the company said, “We should have settled the issue earlier, and we are deeply heartbroken that we failed to do so and express our deep apology.”
Workers from Samsung have been reporting leukemia and other serious health concerns since 2007. A documentary released last month uncovered 56 cases of leukemia and other blood cancers among Samsung workers. Leaked text messages suggest Samsung allegedly pressured news publications, trying to convince them not to cover a movie about one Samsung leukemia victim, called Another Promise. It is the first film in Korean cinematic history to have been both invested and produced entirely by crowd funding. The equivalent of $1.3 million US dollars was raised to make the film, and all the actors cast in it played their roles for free.
According to a Yale commentary, Samsung’s ‘clean rooms’ are anything but clean. “An unusually high incidence of leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, and other serious diseases appears to exist among relatively young people who have worked in Samsung’s semiconductor and other chemically-intensive manufacturing plants.” These illnesses are similar to those found at plants in the US an in other countries. Samsung’s electronics account for one fifth of South Korea’s exports.