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The Settlement of South Korean Electronic Waste

최종 수정일: 2023년 12월 21일

By: Erin Kim

When observing the people around us nowadays, mainly everyone possesses electronic devices. The public is always interested in the latest dispatch about the new laptop or cell phone being released, and the excitement never dies. As one device is released, the public desires to know more about the next one; a better image quality, new apps, and a new aesthetically-pleasing design. When devices are damaged (or not), people tend to purchase a new one quickly for replacement. Most electronics have become a luxury that can be easily substituted instead of being a practical tool in life. Unfortunately, instead of improving the security and technology of these electronics, companies persuade people to purchase new products, purposely produce products that are easily damaged, and inefficiently operate AS systems for customers after their electronics are damaged. As a result, people are throwing their electronics away more easily and purchasing new ones.

Once the public is delivered the information about a new device, it is a matter of time before an old device is thrown away. For most people, once a device is thrown away, it is gone forever. Yet, where do these devices go after they are recycled or handed to manufacturers? In Korea, whether the devices are functioning or not, every product that is thrown away is exported to Nigeria, a country in West Africa. The e-wastes do not vanish into thin air; they become another burden to the citizens of Nigeria. 500 thousand containers of e-wastes are exported to Nigeria every month, exposing citizens and the environment to toxic chemicals and health challenges such as DNA damage, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases (Abiodun). To earn money and save their families from famine, 40% of Nigerian women and many child laborers in Nigeria are required to work at least thirteen hours a day to collect toxic chemicals and metals such as steel, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, and cadmium (“아이를 위한 지구는 없다”). Unfortunately, the origin of all of these toxic substances is the e-wastes imported from South Korea. South Korea replaces cell phones the most among the 38 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, with 77% of mobile phone users reportedly changing their devices (“Korea”). This record displays the number of electronics that are used in South Korea, which also provides an idea about where the abundance of electronics ends up after usage.

The endless manufacturing of new electronic devices, intended promotion of weak repairing systems, convenience, and greed for better and newer products can all lead to becoming a never-ending responsibility for people that we didn’t know existed. While teenagers replace their electronics with new ones, teenagers and mothers on the other side of the world receive the old ones, risking their lives to extract contaminated metals. In order to prevent these unsafe substances from being exposed to the world, it is important to delay unnecessary buys of electronic devices, utilize after-sales systems and purchase strong and endurable devices.

Work Cited

Abiodun, Bolu. "Nigeria has an electronic waste problem, but an e-waste bill may

not be the solution." Techpoint, 5 Sept. 2022,

e-waste-in-nigeria/ #:~:text=According%20to%20TRT%20World%2C%20500,%2C%20cancer%2C%20and%20cardiovascular%20disease. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Alabi, Okunola. "Nigeria's electronic waste is a public health problem and needs

urgent attention." The Conversation, 4 July 2021,


63537. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Matthew. "Koreans Replace Cell Phones Most Frequently among OECD Countries."

Business Korea, 18 Nov. 2014,

articleView.html?idxno=7349. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

"Our Global Reach." OECD, Accessed 25

Mar. 2023.

Parvez, Sarker M., et al. "Health consequences of exposure to e-waste: an

updated systematic review." The Lancet, Dec. 2021,



Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Wikimedia Commons. At least 15,600 metric tonnes of non-functional UEEE is

imported into Nigeria each year. Down to Earth, 27 Apr. 2018,


ear-60340. Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

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