Samsung’s devastating secret: The tears of ‘semiconductor children’

“Over the past few years, Samsung Corporation has faced a number of troubling allegations about the health of some of its workers in the company’s home base, South Korea. Former workers and their families, along with labor activists, have said that conditions at the company’s semiconductor factories have led to higher occurrences of illnesses such as leukemia and other cancers among former semiconductor workers,” The Huffington Post Korea reports. “In a new series, The Huffington Post Korea and its media partner, The Hankyoreh, report that long-term exposure to toxic chemicals may not only have lasting effects for some former Samsung workers, but also for their children.”

“The issue of reproductive toxicity, when children fall ill because of the accumulation of various toxic compounds over a long period in their parents’ bodies, has not surfaced very often because many parents blame themselves and keep their children’s condition hidden. It is difficult for those who often could not even fathom blaming their company for their own sicknesses to connect their children’s illnesses to their workplace,” The Huffington Post Korea reports. “Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, world-class corporations and leaders of the Korean semiconductor industry, both deny the relationship between work conditions in semiconductor manufacturing and reproductive toxicity.”

“That reaction is similar to the first reports, in 2008, of ‘semiconductor industrial diseases’ — when former Samsung workers started attributing leukemia and other diseases they had developed to conditions in semiconductor factory work. While Samsung initially denied a link between the incidents and conditions at its plants, Korean courts ruled in several cases that former Samsung semiconductor workers with leukemia were victims of industrial accidents. The ubiquitous technology giant finally issued an apology in May 2014 to workers and their families, promising appropriate compensation to workers’ families,” The Huffington Post Korea reports. “The Hankyoreh now follows the largely unreported story of the ‘tears of the semiconductor second generation.’ This story, the first installment of the series, explores the devastating narrative of one family’s struggle to survive in the face of chronic health problems created in the workplace.”

“A picture of my son’s first birthday? There is no such thing. I was too busy begging the doctors to save my child, bedridden in the hospital.” – Ms. Kim Hee-eun

Currently, Hee-eun is suffering from thyroid cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis and epithelial cancer. She undergoes thyroid cancer treatment every 6 months, meningitis treatment every 3 months and rheumatoid arthritis treatment every 2 months. She has to go back to the Seoul National University Hospital every month, although the same hospital told her and [son] Gunoo not to come back after 13 long years. “I want to sleep at least one night without any pain,” Hee-un said, expressing her most fervent wish.

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Terribly sad and yet another atop a mountain of reasons to boycott Samsung-branded products, from TVs to refrigerators to pretend iPhones.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “WindozeBloze” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Samsung: Sorry about that cancer – May 14, 2014


  1. I do not buy Samsung’s products anymore because of their business practices. It does not surprise me that their factory workers face health risks.

    However I do wonder how unique this example is in the semi conductor industry. With most of the manufacturing being performed in Asia it is possible that the majority of manufacturers treat their employees health in similar disregard?

    Maybe Apple should start to example the working conditions for their component suppliers as they do for the manufacturing area. I know that Apple do perform checks but maybe not to the level to uncover this abuse at Samsung.

  2. And wait for it.. Mike daysay will star another round of conferences againsts Samsung and people will block Samsun stores everywhere in 1… 2.. 3……. What? Nothing? No conferences? No blocking? You hipocrist bastards. You paid by competitors pseudo activist.

  3. As Apple fans we should be careful how we present this story to others, because this is about workers at their *semiconductor* factories, not their assembly factories.

    Apple is attempting to divorce themselves of Samsung, but at the moment the latter still produces a lot of semiconductors specifically for Apple (and have in the past, when at least some of these labour issues happened), and there’s nothing in the article implying this problem is happening only at factories that *aren’t* producing things for Apple.

    1. It’s clearly a complicated subject. But these issues are, in a direct sense, NOT Apple’s. They are specifically Samsung’s. As usual, many people will say Apple should do something about it. Whether that is actually the case will be a debate. If this issue is related to products they pay Samsung to manufacture (which isn’t actually clear), we know Apple will speak up at the very least.

      1. I would agree that Apple is not directly responsible. But, indirectly, they are probably the most guilty party on the planet. Who has created the biggest market of short-lived electronic devices? Apple.
        Ways Apple amplifies this problem:
        1. As a rule, Apple will not attempt to repair its devices that are over 3 years old. Take your 4-year old iMac to the Apple store for repair. They will basically tell you it is trash.
        2. As a rule, Apple does not provide replaceable batteries in their devices. iPhone battery no longer holding a charge? Odds are that you’re going to simply get a new one.
        3. Apple’s OS’s provide limited backward support. You want to run Yosemite (or even Mavericks) on that 8-core, 3 GHz Mac Pro 2,1? Those are killer processors but Apple says they’re obsolete. Time to buy something new.

        1. I understand the trash-it culture you’re pointing out.

          But realistically, any device is required to be able to be repaired for a period of 7 years after it is discontinued. That’s the law of the matter. Whether it makes financial or practical functionality sense to pay for repair/replacement is another matter.

          Regarding backwards compatibility of new versions of OS X: There are good points and bad points to extended compatibility. I’ll let each person decide for themselves. However, I will point out Apple’s infamous quote about supporting older Macs at the advent of Mac OS X: Apple initially decided that 18 months backward compatibility with hardware was enough. Not kidding. Public outcry killed that silly plan.

      2. You say, “in a direct sense,” but when it comes to who has the power to force a change, it’s probably Apple. If they start requiring safer working conditions, the whole industry will have to shift. It will be good for avoiding a lot of suffering, good for PR (thus, sales), and often improving working conditions can lead to new technological breakthroughs.
        Oh, and it’s the right thing to do, morally.

  4. Abuse of employees for the sake of quick and easy profits is a perennial problem with business. We humans so easily toss our morals, how we treat ourselves and others, out the window whenever quick and easy profits are in sight. We bury our head in the game of finance and ignore the raw, basic requirements for our own and other people’s survival. We hurt ourselves as we hurt others, stuck in temporary blindness for short term profits, long term disaster. Oops.

    So, this is obviously ScamScum must overcome. But knowing their already deeply compromised values, they won’t until forced to do so. Incredibly corrupt and sad.

    Thank you Apple for not falling for the quick and easy self-destructive game playing.

  5. It bothers me when American say that they hate Apple so much and buy Samsung phones. Yet when you ask them why they spout baseless allegations. When you counter with hard facts about Samsung, they don’t believe a word you say. How stupid can these guys be? Some even says things like “Apple stuff is made in China so I won’t buy Apple, I’ll buy Samsung because they have a plant in the US” Huh?

  6. Apple has many of their semiconductors made by Samsung. As part of their efforts to promote humane treatment within their supply chain, Apple should put real pressure on Samsung to make this right. Apple customers need to voice this to Apple as well.

    What is the real value of s company? If we think it is only financial, we support an unsustainable version of capitalism (our current version). We need a free market that values companies that produce profit while also supporting a stable society of workers (with jobs and healthcare – not fearful of spending), and not destroying the environment that fundamentally supports our lives on the planet. If a company makes loads of money but does it by abusing people somewhere in the world, and/or destroys and toxifies the environment – it is less than worthless- it is a parasite, and its products should be boycotted

    Do we really need worn-looking blue jeans at the expense of the health of the children in Bangladesh, for example?

    1. It sounds to me like you think those suicide nets should be taken down.

      Reality is, the worker suicide numbers per worker force in China assembly factories are a third of the suicide numbers per student body in American Universities and Colleges.

      1. No. I’m pointing out and reminding everyone of the fact that the work conditions at FoxCon, Apples primary supplier, are so bad that they had to put up suicide nets.

        So it’s not like Apple is really any better.

  7. Ecology and Economy both derived from the same word (Oikos) and should work together, intricately but unfortunately they are kept fragmented.

    Add this to the karma card list along with Chernobyl, Bhopal, Kuwaiti, Oil Fires, Love Canal, The Exxon Valdez, Tokaimura Nuclear Plant, The Aral Sea, Seveso Dioxin Cloud, Minamata Disease, and Three Mile Island for a start up list.

    Humans are the only creature on the planet capable of producing materials that are not only toxic to themselves but toxic to every other living creature on the planet.

      1. Pepperoni comes from pork and beef, with spices from plants, mushrooms are produced by mushroom, olives by olives, and pizza dough is produced by wheat and yeast, cheese is pretty well the same thing.

        Pizza is an accumulation of items made by other living things.

        Coming from an AFZ I don’t know what you are referring to when you mention IPA but if it’s India Pale Ale again that’s produced by yeast, although humans just provide the environment for that to happen.

        Putting components to make pizza is indeed ingenious but it’s not what I am talking about.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.