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Govt of India expresses ‘strong displeasure’ to South Korea on Hyundai Pak’s tweet

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: India on Tuesday summoned South Korea’s ambassador to the country to convey its strong displeasure over a social media post by a Pakistani partner of Hyundai Motor over Kashmir.

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In an official statement, the ministry of external affairs said that the government conveyed its strong displeasure to the “unacceptable social media post” to the ambassador. It was also highlighted that the 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,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“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 MEA spokesperson said.

The row erupted on Sunday, a day after Pakistan marked the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day and the posts on behalf of Hyundai’s partner Nishat Group appeared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram commemorating the sacrifices of Kashmiris struggling for self-determination.

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Hundreds of social media users in India backed calls for a boycott, saying Hyundai must apologise for being insensitive to India’s position on the decades-old dispute.

#BoycottHyundai were among the top trends on Twitter in India on Monday, as tweeteratis called for dumping the second-largest carmaker in the country for Tata Motors.

Apart from Hyundai, other consumer brands like Kia, American food chain KFC also faced backlash on social media over tweets by their dealers and outlets in Pakistan.

As the boycotts gained steam, the Indian unit of the South Korean firm issued a statement earlier in the day and said that it has “zero-tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view”.

Hyundai said it “deeply regrets any offence caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity”, adding that it “does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region”.

“Therefore, it is clearly against Hyundai Motor’s policy that the independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made unauthorised Kashmir-related social media posts from their own accounts,” it said, adding it has ensured that the offensive tweets are deleted.

However, as the furore refused to die down and the government had to step in.

Hyundai runs a joint venture in Pakistan that includes one of the country’s top businessmen Mian Mansha. While, Kia Pakistan is operated by Lucky Motor Corp, one of the largest business groups in the nation.

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In India, Hyundai Motors is the second-largest carmaker after Maruti Suzuki. It currently sells 12 models, including Creta and Venue, in the domestic market.

In a separate statement, auto major Toyota stated that it is a global mobility company that aims to earn the respect and admiration from people in each community in which it operates.

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

As a business policy, Hyundai Motor Company does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region. Therefore it is clearly against the Hyundai Motor’s policy that the independently owned distributor in Pakistan made unauthorized Kashmir related social media posts from their own accounts,” the company said in a statement.

“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,” it added.

Later on Tuesday, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in Rajya Sabha said the Centre has asked Hyundai Motors to be more forceful in its unequivocal apology. This came after Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi raised the issue in the Parliament, saying some companies are support and “posting content on Kashmir solidarity day observed by Pakistan”.

“This issue has been taken up both with the government there and the company concerned,” Goyal said. “They (Hyundai) have already issued a clarification yesterday. We have also asked them to be more forceful in their unequivocal apology on this issue.”

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