Whistleblower sparks Hyundai and Kia recall of 240,000 cars

Whistleblower sparks Hyundai and Kia recall of 240,000 cars

The South Korean government has ordered carmakers Hyundai and Kia Motors to recall about 240,000 cars, after a tip off from a whistleblower.

The ex-Hyundai employee raised concern about defects which affected 12 different car models.

It is the first time the country's government has issued a compulsory vehicle recall.

Hyundai and Kia had refused to act voluntarily, saying any problems which did exist did not compromise safety.

Kia is an affiliate of Hyundai, and officials are asking the country's prosecutor to look for any evidence of a cover up at the carmakers.


The models affected include Hyundai's i30 hatchback, its Sonata midsize sedan, the luxury Genesis and Kia's Mohave as well as its Carnival minivan. These models and others were found to have issues with vacuum pipes, fuel hoses, parking brake light issues and several other faulty parts.

The planned recalls will add to the 1.5 million cars which Hyundai and Kia offered to fix last month in South Korea and the US over possible engine stalling.

Whistleblowing is rare in South Korea, and rarer still when the country's big family run conglomerates - or chaebols as they are known - are involved. The corporate culture and obeisance to the top bosses means that very few speak out of turn.

Whistleblower sparks Hyundai and Kia recall of 240,000 cars

But they do exist. Last month I met Kim Gwang-ho, the 55-year-old man behind this specific Hyundai recall. He told me he'd decided to expose what was happening at the firm, because he couldn't - in good faith - allow passengers to travel in vehicles he knew to be faulty.

Mr Kim had worked at Hyundai for more than 25 years, and it was obvious to me that he cared deeply for the firm and was very proud of the work that he'd been involved in.

But he also pointed out that his decision to speak out was calculated. He was nearing retirement, and didn't have as much to lose as his younger colleagues.

A job in a chaebol is often seen as the only path to success in South Korea. And because getting one can be extremely competitive, many employees end up just toeing the line.

But Mr Kim's story, though, seems to have a positive ending. Just this month, Hyundai Motor dropped its lawsuit against him, reinstated him to his old job, and reimbursed him for the lost years of employment.

It was what South Korea's Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission ruled years ago, but it took Hyundai until now, perhaps amidst the changing political environment, to heed it.



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
General election 2017: Lib Dems warn over crime database access

General election 2017: Lib Dems warn over crime database access..

28-May, 19:35

The UK could be "cut off" from an EU-wide crime and security database...

Concrete for taller wind turbine towers passes tests, could help expand wind energy nationwide

Concrete for taller wind turbine towers passes tests, could help expand wind energy nationwide..

28-May, 21:12

That's wind country. The blue band runs east from the Rockies to just...

Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle moving in together? Royal is 'looking for a relaxed country house' amid reports he is planning to pop the question to Suits actress

Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle moving in together? Royal is 'looking for a relaxed country..

28-May, 08:04

But it seems the pair are already set to take their relationship to the...

Miranda Kerr marries Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel - all the details!

Miranda Kerr marries Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel - all the details!..

28-May, 09:12

The model and businessman wed in an intimate ceremony, according to...

Japan and Russia hold talks on security, territorial dispute

Japan and Russia hold talks on security, territorial dispute..

19-Mar, 21:46

The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in...

Syrian warplanes pound rebel-held area in central city

Syrian warplanes pound rebel-held area in central city..

26-Feb, 07:57

Syrian opposition activists say government warplanes are pounding a...

Activist: 3 detained in Bahrain over UK horse show protests

Activist: 3 detained in Bahrain over UK horse show protests..

13-May, 09:01

Bahrain detained three activists over protests targeting the tiny island...

Montenegrin prosecutor summons opposition leaders over coup

Montenegrin prosecutor summons opposition leaders over coup..

17-Feb, 08:26

Two prominent opposition leaders in Montenegro say they will be...