A Samsung employee who spent more than a year at the top of a tower in Seoul to protest his dismissal, ended his action on Friday after reaching an agreement with the South Korean electronics conglomerate, to which he criticized his policy of banning unions.
Kim Yong-hee, 60, says he was fired in 1995 for trying to form a union. After asking Samsung for an apology and reinstatement in vain for more than twenty years, it climbed in 2019 at the top of the dizzying traffic watch tower, a thin column located in the commercial district of Gangnam, near the offices of Samsung Electronics.
Food and clothes hoisted with a rope
He stayed perched on the narrow platform at the top of the tower for 354 days, relying on his supporters who brought him food, clothing and mobile phone batteries, which he hoisted with a rope.
Images of the descent from the tower, broadcast on Korean television, are impressive.
After reaching an agreement with the group on Thursday, the content of which was not disclosed, Kim returned to the ground Friday evening, greeted by his supporters with a bouquet of flowers. The space he had was "so small" that he couldn't even stretch his legs, he said.
"I suffered from panic attacks and I had to constantly fight against the temptation to jump ... I hope that Samsung will now really guarantee (the right) to union activities to all employees", he said. added.
"A superhuman effort"
Lee Sang-hoon, former president of Samsung Electronics, was sentenced to prison in 2019 for sabotaging union activities in the company. In a statement, the group apologized to Kim for "failing to quickly resolve the problem".
His protest was "a superhuman effort," said Vladimir Tikhonov, professor of Korean studies at the University of Oslo. "Samsung kept it up for a year, it shows all the other union candidates in its companies that if they want the fight, the fight will be cruel," he said.
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Samsung Electronics is the largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world.