India summons South Korean envoy over Hyundai's Kashmir tweet

Hyundai apologizes for 'unauthorized' social media post by partner in Pakistan, South Korea expresses 'regret'.

India summons South Korean envoy over Hyundai's Kashmir tweet

India has summoned South Korea's ambassador to lodge a protest against the "unacceptable" social media post about disputed Kashmir by South Korean automobile giant Hyundai Motors’s partner in Pakistan, an official said on Tuesday.

South Korea's ambassador in New Delhi was summoned on Monday and "strong displeasure of the government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to him," said Arindam Bagchi, spokesman for the Indian External Affairs Ministry.

"It was highlighted that this matter concerned India's territorial integrity on which there could be no compromise," he further said.

The Indian ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai headquarters and "sought an explanation" after the ministry saw the post on social media on Feb. 6, Bagchi added.

South Korea 'regrets offense'

A huge row erupted a day after Pakistan marked the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day on Feb. 5 and Hyundai's partner in Pakistan, the Nishat Group, expressed solidarity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir on its social media accounts.

Kashmir Solidarity Day is an annual event observed in Pakistan and its controlled part of Kashmir to express solidarity with the pro-freedom movement in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Bagchi also said that Indian and South Korean foreign ministers held a phone call on Tuesday, and South Korea's Chung Eui-yong “conveyed that they regretted the offense caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post."

The ministry said 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 spokesman said.

Soon after the social media posts by Hyundai's partner in Pakistan, it was highly criticized in India, with a number of social media users in India calling for a boycott of Hyundai and many saying they would cancel orders for Hyundai cars.

Hyundai apologizes

Meanwhile, Hyundai on Tuesday apologized over "unauthorized" "Kashmir-related social media posts" by the "independently owned distributor in Pakistan."

"As a business policy, Hyundai Motor Company does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region," it said in a statement. "We deeply regret any offense caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity."

The company, which is India's second-largest car seller after Maruti Suzuki, also said that "once the situation was brought to our attention, we made the distributor acutely aware of their inappropriateness of the action."

"We have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence," Hyundai said.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – with two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

In 1948, the UN Security Council committed that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute would be decided through a free and fair plebiscite, followed by seven more resolutions to the same effect in the following decades.

Hüseyin Demir

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