South Korea orders recalls for Hyundai, Kia after whistleblower report

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Hyundai and Kia disputed the Ministry's initial recall advisory that cited five alleged safety defects effective 12 vehicle models.

The recall was brought about by the actions of a whistle-blowing engineer who worked for Hyundai, Kim Gwang-ho.

This is the first time ever that the transport ministry has ordered a compulsory recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

The ministry later asked the automakers to recall the vehicles over eight of the 32 problems reported by Kim. "We have not received any voluntary recall plan from the automaker", the official said.

The move is a blow to Hyundai and Kia, which are reeling from a recall last month of 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S., Canada and South Korea. The two are required to submit a recall plan to the ministry within the next 25 days.

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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. Kia Motors declined 1 percent.

The employee has revealed some models have faulty parts, including vacuum pipes, fuel hoses and light issues.

Regarding the question of whether it had knowingly covered up the defects, it said, "We make decisions on recalls and any other necessary customer protection steps in compliance with regulators around the world as well as our internal procedures". After investigating 32 vehicle defects leaked previous year by a whistleblower at Hyundai Motor, the Ministry recommended last month that Hyundai and Kia initiate a voluntary recall for some of the defects. These cars could be based on the Picanto platform as the company like to position Kia brand below Hyundai and that means, it needs to keep the costs in check. The transport ministry will also investigate into whether there was any sign of cover-up in the companies.

Hyundai has appealed the decision saying the defects do not pose serious threats to passenger safety to require a forced recall.

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