Mourning the Passing of a Grassroots Leader
The death of Korean asbestos activist and campaigner Jiyol Jung was reported on January 28, 2022 by the Asian Citizens Center for Environment and Health; the cause of his death was asbestos-related lung cancer.1
Since his diagnosis with asbestosis at aged 65 (2008), Jiyol had been a stalwart participant at meetings of the Korean Network of Asbestos Victims and was one of the founding members of the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO). He is pictured in the image below which was taken at the Seoul International Asbestos Symposium on July 2, 2018 to mark BANKOs 10th anniversary. That event and ban asbestos protests the next day (July 3) outside the Russian and Chinese embassies were attended by scores of Korean, Japanese and Indonesian ban asbestos campaigners.2
July 2, 2018 International Asbestos Symposium at Seoul National University. Jiyol Jung second from left.
Jiyol Jung played a crucial role in identifying and supporting people in the former asbestos mining region in Chungnam Province who had either worked at the mines or been exposed environmentally to toxic fibers liberated by mining operations. His activism did not stop at the borders of his home town or Province. He travelled in Korea and as far afield as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and mobilize grassroots support for asbestos victims. He was a friend to ban asbestos campaigners throughout Asia and was an active member of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN). His presence at the first virtual ABAN conference in September 2021 was sorely missed.
To international ban asbestos activists, Jiyol became the face of Korean asbestos victims in recent years and his image has been widely used to illustrate the growth of Asian support for asbestos to be banned.
Jiyol Jung at the Asian Asbestos Conference in Hong Kong, 2009.
Our condolences to his family and friends and to all those in Korea and abroad who were privileged to know him.
January 31, 2022
1 보고서 388호 2022년-4호 1월28일 석면추방운동가 정지열의 삶 [Report No. 388, No. 4, 2022, January 28. The life of ban asbestos activist Jeong Ji-yeo]. January 28, 2022.