When his son was born, engineer Jaeyoon Kim decided to dedicate himself to making the world greener. This decision led to a groundbreaking innovation.
Voices of Galaxy spotlights the people who use their passion, creativity, and determination along with technology to make a positive impact on their own lives and their communities.
Jaeyoon Kim has always been aware of the environmental issues the world faces. As an engineer at the Global Customer Satisfaction Team at Samsung Electronics, he screens for potentially harmful substances in all parts and materials in Samsung products as well as finding innovative ways to help suppliers conduct similar inspections. While his professional role may be close to his heart, the self-described “environmental nerd” truly cemented his decision to dedicate himself to making a greener future for his son when he became a father.
Working for a Better World
In 2018, Jaeyoon realized that suppliers don’t have a cost-effective way to test for phthalates – a substance that is harmful to humans and is prohibited in all Galaxy products. While Samsung has the equipment and capacity to test for the chemicals, some suppliers had difficulties conducting similar tests due to the costs and technical expertise required. To ensure that phthalates would not end up in everyday products including his six-year-old son’s toys, Jaeyoon decided to get better testing tools in suppliers hands.
“In the beginning, I was working on my testing kit prototypes on top of my assigned tasks so that it didn’t get in the way of daily business,” he said. But the development process was not easy. “I kept running into roadblocks along the way; a lot of scientists told me what I was trying to do was impossible, and I struggled to find the right partner who was willing to try this out. But I just kept going.”
To search for an answer, Jaeyoon read countless research papers and conducted numerous experiments. After two years, his efforts finally paid off when he created a palm-sized phthalates detection kit that is cheaper and also more portable than existing equipment.
For his innovation, he landed first place in the 2020 round of Samsung’s Work Smart Contest. The engineer also received recognition from Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy for his many other contributions to a cleaner environment.
Doing It for Family
Jaeyoon’s passion to contribute to a healthier world began well before he started his role at Samsung. He has always gone the extra mile to keep himself informed about environmental issues, but following the birth of his son, Jaeyoon really began to question what he could do to create a better world for him.
Much of his answer to this was to ensure he was putting his son first in his free time. “On weekends, my son and I spend at least an hour and a half working on projects together,” he said. “Since I was a kid, I have enjoyed making things, even before I went on to major in Civil Engineering. I think the things my son and I create together are a reflection of that: I give him minimal advice, and he completes a project himself over the week.”
Jaeyoon also likes to create his own projects. He believes this is another way to inspire his son to be true to his passion. “I’ve loved to draw since I was in third grade. Recently, I have been creating and uploading some of my own webtoon comics on my smartphone,” he said. Not surprisingly Jaeyoon’s cartoons revolve around issues of childhood and the environment, a subject matter that has won him some recognition.
A Balanced World
Despite his recent achievements, Jaeyoon is still thinking ahead as to what his next contribution to a better environment might be. “The use of disposable products such as masks has increased rapidly because of COVID-19,” he noted. “A lot of people are preparing for a post-COVID world, and as a member of that world and someone who is in the position to control harmful substances, I think how we deal with all the extra disposables is a new project that I would like to look into.”