A movie funded by donations and crowd-funding investments from nearly 7,000 people has highlighted the battle of a Samsung factory worker's family to win compensation for her death from leukemia in the face of media indifference and corporate obstruction.
"Another Family," which premiered during the 18th Busan International Film Festival ending on Saturday, is a fictional account based on the story of Hwang Yu-mi, who died aged 23 from leukemia in 2007, four years after joining Samsung's memory chip factory in Yongin, South Korea. The title resonates widely in South Korea because it is a well-known Samsung advertising slogan.
Hwang's father Sang-gi, a taxi driver, won a court ruling in June 2011 that overturned a government agency's finding that Samsung was not responsible for Hwang's cancer. In South Korea, the Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service levies companies and compensates workers after reviewing their claims on industrial hazards and diseases. The agency has appealed the ruling.
Of three dozen Samsung employees who last year sought compensation for diseases allegedly caused by Samsung, only two won compensation, according to Lee Jong-ran, an attorney who helps tech industry workers who contracted leukemia and other cancers. About a dozen people have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the welfare agency's refusal to recognize a link between their diseases and working conditions at Samsung, she said.
In the fictionalized account of "Another Family," a sickened young woman and her father are ignored by most reporters and former colleagues as they try to show a link between chemicals used at the factory where she worked and her cancer.
The company, named Jinsung to avoid a possible libel suit, stymies her father's efforts to find witnesses. A company official tails her family day and night, offering increasingly larger sums of money to settle. The names of Hwang and her father are also altered for the movie, to Han.
In one poignant scene, Han's father stands outside Jinsung's factory gate seeking witnesses who could testify in court about working conditions. Suddenly he is surrounded by three buses that blast dance music. Co-producer Daniel Park said the dramatic scene was based on an incident outside a Samsung factory involving two buses.
Samsung denied the bus incident occurred. "The scenes depicted in this film are not a factual representation of actual events," it said. "Since 2012 Samsung has reached out several times to the families of former employees and remains committed to active dialogue." (continued...)
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