South Korean film speaks out against Samsung's disregard for safety
'Another Promise' tells of workers who fell ill due to chemical exposure at plant
South Korea's Samsung is the world's largest technology producer. A backbone of that nation's economic strength, few are quick to criticize the producer of much of the world's TVs and gadgets. However, the fictional film, "Another Promise" addresses the cases where Samsung workers fell ill and died due to chemical exposure at plants. Entirely funded by private donations, the film is a gutsy statement on industrial accountability.
Of the three-dozen Samsung workers who filed for compensation through the workers' welfare service last year, only two were successful.
In 2007, after five years of working there, 23-year-old Yu-Mi was diagnosed with a rare form of acute leukemia and later died. Her father insists was caused by her exposure to hazardous chemicals at the Samsung plant in the city of Suwon.
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"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," Hwang says. His suspicions were aroused when he learned that a colleague of his daughter had died from the same illness. "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.'"
"Another Promise," is the first South Korean movie to have been funded entirely by private donations and crowd funding. Roughly 7,000 people donated a quarter of the film's total budget in exchange for cinema tickets or DVDs, while the rest of the funds came from other private investments and the filmmakers themselves.
The producers altered the film's original title from "Another Family," which is a well known Samsung advertising slogan. The on-screen electronics company in the film is called Jinsung.
Director Kim Tae-yun said he was inspired to make the film after reading a newspaper article about Yu-mi's case.
"Friends told me not to do it, that it would be dangerous for my career," he said. "But I'm not the one doing the fighting here - the families are. I don't care if I'm tackling controversial or sensitive subjects, because there shouldn't be any taboo subjects for film-makers."
About 200 Samsung workers have made similar allegations against Samsung and other chipmakers, according to Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry.
Of the three-dozen Samsung workers who filed for compensation through the workers' welfare service last year, only two were successful. The majority of the employees who fell ill were only in their 20s and 30s when they fell ill. More than 50 have since died.
"When you have that number of cases it is clear that the cases of Yu-mi and the other workers were not coincidences," Lee said. "The workers were never told what kind of materials they were handling. Even when lawyers asked Samsung for details about the chemicals they were told that it was a company secret."
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