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Law School Students Supporting Laborers Suffering from Industrial Diseases

  • December 6, 2011
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Students from SNU Law School are supporting those suffering from industrial diseases acquired during their employment at the factories of Samsung Semiconductor.

There are currently nine students participating in the class action suit filed in April against the Korea Labor Compensation Welfare Service in support of the lawyer in charge. Their participation in the lawsuit is also being counted as their enrollment in the Clinical Law course at SNU Law School, therefore four out of the nine students participating in the lawsuit are acquiring credits for this.

"I was inspired by my adviser's recommendation to incorporate the knowledge learned from the curriculum into civic activity, and that led me to cooperate with non-profit organizations for this lawsuit. I believe this case will act as a trigger to change the social atmosphere in Korea that forbids the explicit mention of Samsung's exploitation of its employees and its responsibility regarding the issue," Sohn, one of the students participating in the lawsuit, said.

He learned of the circumstances of Samsung Semiconductor's employees during his 3-week internship at the non-governmental organization 'Ban-Olim', which supports the human rights of laborers in semiconductor factories.

Sohn said that he himself and his fellow students share a feeling of sympathy as well as a sense of obligation to the laborers suffering from work-induced illnesses."I see the youth about the same age as I am dying from the cancer they developed in their workplace due to their financial need that forced them to work right after graduating from high school, while I was able to attend college, and now law school, just because I have wealthy parents. That's why I decided to share the pain with them."

The bereaved family of the Samsung employee who died of leukemia partially won the first trial of the administrative litigation against the Korea Labor Compensation Welfare Service in June. Students translated the sentencing of this case into English, and offered it as a reference at the symposium entitled"Right to Health of Semiconductor / Electronics Industry Workers and Environmental Justice" held on November 23 at Seoul National University, at which various non-governmental organizations from around the world attended. As it is rare for a semiconductor worker to win a compensation lawsuit for industrial disease, the translation of the sentencing will be distributed to international civic organizations, and the SNU Center for Public Interest and Human Rights will officially publish the translation for its wider distribution.

Some of the students have already expressed that they will continue supporting the victims even after the course is finished."I would like to seek out the unresolved cases, in which no administrative litigation process has been started, and continue assisting the victims in need of legal services even after my graduation," Sohn said.

Written by LEE Chanwoo, SNU English Editor,
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor,
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