Korean regulators order the recall of 240,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles, rejecting the automakers’ claim the cars’ flaws are not significant enough to warrant a recall.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport issued a news release announcing the order May 12. Yong Sohn, general manager-global public relations for Hyundai Motor Group, says despite the media announcement the automaker still is awaiting formal notification.

Hyundai does provide a statement acknowledging it will comply with the recall: “We accept the administrative order on recalls by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Korea, as we respect the Ministry and the safety of our valuable customers, although there have been no reported injuries or accidents from the cited issues.

“Safety is always Hyundai’s No.1 priority, and we make decisions on recalls or any other customer-protection steps in compliance with regulators around the world, and follow stringent internal procedures.”

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

As previously publicly reported by the Ministry, the defects include faulty brake vacuum lines and possible defects in wheel lugnut assemblies, parking-brake alert signal systems, engine control canisters and fuel lines.

The companies submitted arguments which were heard May 8 by independent arbitrators not affiliated with the ministry or with Hyundai or Kia.

The recall results from information provided to the Ministry in September by a Hyundai whistleblower, Gwang-ho Kim. His information earlier led to a voluntary recall in Korea of some 171,000 vehicles equipped with the Theta II engine.

It is generally believed Kim also complained to NHTSA, the U.S. auto-safety regulator, which ordered a massive recall of 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada that were equipped with Theta II engines.

Hyundai conducted the North American recall voluntarily, saying it was inspecting the engines for metal debris in the crankcase caused by a manufacturing process defect that has been corrected.

Hyundai fired Kim, a 56-year old engineer who had worked for the company for more than 25 years. The company also asked prosecutors to charge Kim with pirating and releasing company product secrets that had no bearing on the alleged defects.

Kim was rehired last month after Hyundai received a recommendation from Korea’s Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, which ruled he had acted in the public interest.