Hyundai row: India expresses ‘displeasure’, South Korea ‘regrets offence’

Days after car-manufacturer Hyundai’s Pakistan offshoot tweeted about “remembering the sacrifices” of people in Kashmir and asked for people to stand in support as these people continued to “struggle for freedom”, South Korean Foreign minister Chung Eui-yong called up External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and “regretted the offence” caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post, Ministry of External Affairs said Tuesday.

The Indian government Tuesday reacted sharply as it said that it had summoned the South Korean envoy and had expressed displeasure to him. The Indian envoy in Seoul also conveyed the same message to the South Korean government.

External Affairs minister S Jaishankar said he received a call from South Korean Foreign minister Chung Eui-yong and discussed the “Hyundai matter”.

Jaishankar tweeted, “Received a call from ROK FM Chung Eui-yong today. Discussed bilateral and multilateral issues as also the Hyundai matter.”

Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We had seen a social media post on the so-called Kashmir Solidarity Day was made by Hyundai Pakistan. Immediately after this social media post on Sunday, 6th February 2022, our Ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai Headquarters and sought an explanation. The offending post had been removed subsequently. The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday 7th February 2022.”

“The strong displeasure of the Government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to him. It was highlighted that this matter concerned India’s territorial integrity on which there could be no compromise. We expected the company to take appropriate action to properly address these issues,” Bagchi added.


Clear signal to investors

THE CENTRE’S strong response is a signal to international investors in India to refrain from making political comments, even outside the country. It is a reflection of Delhi’s clear red line on J&K.

“South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong called the External Affairs Minister this morning (Tuesday). While they discussed several issues, the South Korean Foreign Minister also conveyed that they regretted the offence caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post,” he said.

A statement was also issued by Hyundai Motors conveying its “deep regret” to the people of India and making it clear that it does not comment on the political or religious issues, he said.

He added that India welcomes investments by foreign companies in various sectors. But, he said, “It is also expected that such companies or their affiliates will refrain from false and misleading comments on matters of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

On February 5, a handle by the name Hyundai Pakistan Official sent out a tweet which called for “remembering the sacrifices” of people in Kashmir and asked for people to stand in support as these people continued to “struggle for freedom”. The same post was also shared on Facebook.

Both the tweet and the Facebook post were deleted shortly but not before being picked by social media users who called out the company’s posts marking solidarity with Kashmir. Pakistan observes February 5 as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ with a view to show its support to the separatist movement of the Union territory.

Earlier this week, after Hyundai India, its parent company Hyundai Motor has issued a statement Tuesday saying that it does not comment on “political or religious issues in any specific region”, and that it “deeply regrets” any offence caused to Indians. The move is also a step to further distance itself from a Hyundai dealer in Pakistan who shared a tweet offering solidarity with Kashmir.

Hyundai Motor India Sunday had issued a statement in which it said that the “unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India” was “offending” the company’s “unparalleled commitment” to the country.

The company’s previous statement received widespread backlash on social media and calls to boycott products made by the company started to trend.

In its new statement, the company said it was “clearly against” its policy that the an independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made “unauthorised” Kashmir-related social media posts from their own accounts. It also said that its Indian subsidiary is not associated with the distributor in Pakistan.

“Once the situation was brought to our attention, we made the distributor acutely aware of the inappropriateness of the action. We have since taken measures to ensure the distributor, which misused the Hyundai brand identity, has removed the social media posts and we have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence,” the company added.

The company is the second largest carmaker in India, after market leader Maruti Suzuki and is among the top exporters of cars from India. In January 2022, it sold 44,022 units. Overall, in 2021, the company had sold 505,033 units in India, up 19.2 per cent on year.






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