South Korea's Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong called Indian counterpart S Jaishankar and "expressed regret" after the Pakistan arm of the country's automobile giant Hyundai posted controversial remarks on Kashmir, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on February 8.
The controversy erupted after the social media unit of Hyundai Pakistan, on February 5, said it is remembering the "sacrifices of Kashmiri brothers".February 5 is observed in Pakistan as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day'. The country's allegations of human rights violations in the region has been, however, squarely refuted by India at all major international forums.
Received a call from ROK FM Chung Eui-yong today. Discussed bilateral and multilateral issues as also the Hyundai matter.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 8, 2022
The MEA, in its detailed statement, said, "Foreign Minister of Republic of Korea H.E. Mr. Chung Eui-yong called External Affairs Minister this morning. While they discussed several issues, the RoK Foreign Minister also conveyed that they regretted the offence caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post."
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi further noted that immediately after noticing the controversial social media post of Hyundai Pakistan, New Delhi's envoy in the South Korean capital sought an explanation from the company on February 6.
"Our Ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai headquarters and sought an explanation. The offending post had been removed subsequently," Bagchi said.
The South Korean ambassador in New Delhi was also summoned by the MEA on February 7 to mark India's "strong displeasure", he said.
"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 further added.
Notably, Hyundai India is bearing the brunt of the huge backlash online and calls for boycott of its cars in India, long a significant market. The company, in a statement, blamed the distributor in Pakistan for stirring the row.
The social media posts were "unauthorised" and the Pakistani distributor is not linked with the carmaker’s India subsidiary, Hyundai clarified.
"Hyundai Motor Company has been investing in India for many decades and remains strongly committed to Indian customers. We deeply regret any offense caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity," the parent company said.
The MEA said it has taken cognisance of the company expressing "deep regret" and making it clear that "it does not comment on the 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," the ministry added.