Why Hyundai's misact should not disrupt India-South Korea relations?
South Korea has always been a friend to India. It shall be in the best interest of both parties involved to maintain a congenial association. Dragging the issue further shall benefit no one
Kashmir is an indissoluble part of India, and Hyundai should not be sticking its nose in the Indo-Pak Kashmir dispute. However, as the South Korean government has apologized on behalf of Hyundai, it is time to forget this bitter controversy and move ahead
In light of the manner in which South Korea has consistently increased its investment in India, the act of sharing a social media post by the Pakistani unit of Hyundai on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day must not be paid attention to. India has already summoned the Ambassador of South Korea and lawfully explained that such a post is completely unacceptable by the Republic of India. Kashmir is and shall always remain an integral part of the country. There cannot be any compromise when it comes to this. The next course of action is to leave it to the government of South Korea to decide how to deal with the management of Hyundai.
The bright side is that South Korea has also expressed profound regret about the situation. Hyundai Motors India Limited has a sprawling business in India with several manufacturing units. It must realise that it has committed an unforgivable mistake. Their actions are equivalent to an Indian company operating in South Korea taking the side of North Korea regarding a South Korea-North Korea dispute. As that would be unacceptable to the South Korean government, so are the actions of Hyundai to India.
Kashmir is an indissoluble part of India, and Hyundai should not be sticking its nose in the Indo-Pak Kashmir dispute. However, as the South Korean government has apologized on behalf of Hyundai, it is time to forget this bitter controversy and move ahead. Dragging the issue further shall benefit no one.
Another thing worth remembering is that South Korea's attitude towards India has always been respectful and amicable. South Korea, being a country that worships Lord Buddha, views India as a holy country. Every year innumerable South Korean pilgrims visit India to offer prayers at the pilgrimage sites associated with Lord Buddha.
However, only a few people know that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore is a highly admired poet in South Korea. In 1929, he also wrote a poem on the glorious history of Korea. South Korea was acquainted with Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore for the first time when he received the Nobel Prize for his extraordinary work of literature 'Gitanjali' in 1913. The process of translating Tagore's literature into the Korean language began soon after, and in this way, the people there understood the literary works of this great writer-thinker. The translation of "Gitanjali" was published in South Korea in 1920.
South Korea has had a sense of gratitude towards India because of the unwavering support India offered in one way or another in the Korean War. The Korean War (1950–53) began with the invasion of South Korea by North Korea on 25th June 1950. That was the first and most terrible conflict in the Cold War Era. On one side, North Korea was aided by Communist Soviet Union and Communist China. On the other hand, South Korea was supported by America among other nations. Owing to India's support in that war, South Korea has also built a war memorial in India's capital city, New Delhi. The Korean War Memorial is to be inaugurated soon (postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19). The Korean War Memorial has been established at Thimayya Park in Delhi Cantt. In the war between South and North Korea, 22 countries, including India, supported South Korea. A statue of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore has been installed in it. Those who know the history of India-South Korea relations know that General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya had given frequent inputs to South Korea during the Korean War, which proved extremely useful in those crucial times. He was a policy expert and was affectionately called General Timmy. He served as the Chief of Army Staff of India from 8th May 1957 to 7th May 1961. Thus, South Korea and India have always had a cordial relationship.
If we talk about the investment of South Korean companies in India, then in the last four years, South Korea's investment in India reached Rs 2.69 billion in 2021, as compared to Rs 1.39 billion in 2017. Cities like New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, and Mumbai are becoming the preferred destinations for South Korean citizens and companies. Thousands of Korean citizens live here. Dozens of popular South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics, Hyundai, LG Electronics, Doosan Heavy Industries have been operating in India. Companies like LG Electronics, Moser Baer, Yamaha of South Korea have enormous factories in Greater Noida. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, about five dozen South Korean companies invested in India.
In the time to follow, the management of Hyundai will have to be more careful and sensitive in its actions. They will have to refrain from commenting on issues involving foreign policy. Hyundai Motors India Limited is the second-largest car manufacturer in the country. It entered the Indian automobile market in 1996 and launched its first car in India in the form of Hyundai Santro in 1998. Since then, Hyundai has been successfully operating in India. Hyundai is well aware of how significant the Indian market is to it. It also exports cars made in India to Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Australia, and the Asia Pacific. Hyundai has launched a total of 17 models in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited South Korea two years ago. He was honoured with the Seoul Peace Prize during that visit. PM Modi also had discussions with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on bilateral relations, including strategic issues. Of course, Modi's visit strengthened India's remarkable strategic partnership with South Korea and added a new dimension to the 'look east policy.' Needless to say, after careful consideration of all these aspects, we have to ignore the tweets of Hyundai Pakistan and continue to understand that South Korea has always been a friend to India. It shall be in the best interest of both parties involved to maintain a congenial association.
(The writer is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP)