Korea’s foreign minister expressed ‘regret’ in call to External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, while Delhi summoned Seoul’s ambassador to convey ‘displeasure’ over Hyundai Pakistan’s tweet

New Delhi: South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong called External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday and expressed “regret” over the “offence caused” to India by a post tweeted by Hyundai Pakistan regarding Kashmir.

Prior to the phone call, New Delhi Tuesday had summoned South Korea’s ambassador to India, Chang Jae-bok, and conveyed to him that the Hyundai matter relates to “India’s territorial integrity on which there could be no compromise,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Jaishankar said in a tweet that he had discussed bilateral and multilateral issues as well as the Hyundai matter with the South Korean foreign minister.

On Sunday, a Hyundai dealer based in Pakistan had said in a tweet through the account @hyundaiPakistanOfficial: “Praying for the liberation of our eternally beautiful Kashmir today and always,” while hailing Kashmir Solidarity Day as a “struggle for freedom”. Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed annually on 5 February as a national holiday in Pakistan in support of secessionists in the Valley, and those killed in the conflict.
Outlining India’s response to this, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Tuesday, “Immediately after this social media post on Sunday, 6 February, 2022, our ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai headquarters and sought an explanation. The offending post had been removed subsequently.”

Bagchi added that the South Korean ambassador had been summoned and told about India’s “strong displeasure on the unacceptable social media post”.

“We expected the company to take appropriate action to properly address these issues,” Bagchi said in response to media queries.

Discussing Jaishankar’s conversation with the South Korean foreign minister, Bagchi said, “While they discussed several issues, the RoK Foreign Minister also conveyed that they regretted the offence caused to the people and the Government of India by the social media post.”

He added that Hyundai Motors had also issued a statement “conveying its deep regret to the people of India and making it clear that it does not comment on political or religious issues”.

“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,” Bagchi said.

India and South Korea have shared a strategic partnership since 2010, when the two also signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Prime Minister Narendra Modi last visited South Korea in February 2019, when he received the Seoul Peace Prize.

Hyundai’s Statement

Earlier Tuesday, Hyundai India said in a statement that the Korean carmaker “does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region” and that “it is clearly against Hyundai Motors’ policy that the independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made unauthorised Kashmir-related social media posts from their own accounts.”

It also said that the company, once alerted to the situation, had “made the distributor acutely aware of the inappropriateness of the action,” and ensured that the distributor – which “misused the Hyundai brand identity” – removed the social media posts. “We have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence,” it added.

The statement further said: “Our subsidiary, Hyundai Motor India, is not associated with the distributor in Pakistan, and we strongly reject the distributor’s unauthorised non-business related social media activity.”