Taking to the Streets of Jakarta, K-pop Fans Call Out Hyundai’s Greenwashing

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Taking to the Streets of Jakarta, K-pop Fans Call Out Hyundai’s Greenwashing

Hyundai Drop Coal / KPop4Planet

09 June 2023 – by Nurul Sarifah   Comments (0)

Jakarta, Indonesia, is one of many countries considered ground zero for climate change.

The volatile mix of the islands being on the Ring of Fire and the massive pollution choking the skies makes it a prime target for the climate crisis affecting our planet. 

It is also my home, where most of my memories involve hazy skies, wearing masks and hearing about how local people keep getting sick from pollution – despite promises from the government and companies to solve the issues and do better for our climate.

That’s why Kpop4Planet started a campaign after seeing the news that auto giant Hyundai had signed an agreement with Indonesia’s Adaro Minerals to source so-called “green aluminium” from them for their car manufacturing, including their line of EVs, like the IONIQ.

Kpop4Planet is a climate movement for K-pop fans, by K-pop fans who love the earth and their favourite stars.

However, there is nothing “green” about what’s going on – with the hydroelectric power promised by Adaro not available until 2029, the manufacturer will be building a 1.1 GW coal power plant in North Kalimantan to make the aluminium, a place of historic natural beauty.

According to Market Forces, a climate action group that focuses on exposing institutions that finance environmentally destructive projects, the new plant will emit an estimated 5.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. Coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of health-harming air pollutants emitted into our atmosphere.

If Hyundai continues the plan to purchase 50,000 – 100,000 tonnes of aluminium a year from this smelter, as stated in their agreement, Hyundai’s emissions would increase by 3-6% and harm its public goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.

I was especially disappointed as a K-pop fan because Hyundai and BTS are synonymous with each other, with the group representing the Ioniq line as ambassadors for the automotive company. 

BTS has spoken about their love of nature and their desire to care for the environment, something their fans – known as ARMY – know very well. So it was incredibly disappointing when a company with a reputation for sustainability (and represented by our idols) chose to sign an agreement that would harm our earth.

We launched our campaign “Hyundai, Drop Coal,” a play on the song titled “Mic Drop” by BTS, with a petition demanding that Hyundai not use the dirty aluminium from Adaro so long as they are using coal and instead source their aluminium from sustainable alternatives like solar and wind.

There are other options for a company to produce its aluminium sustainably in Indonesia. Inalum, a state-run company, stated that using renewable energy is cheaper than using coal for its aluminium.

More than 10,500 people signed our petition from over 68 countries, including Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

We took our campaign offline at Hyundai’s famous motor studios at Senayan Park Mall in Jakarta, performing with K-pop dancers and presenting the public and the press with the signatures on our petition. We also read an open letter from the Indonesian ARMY to Hyundai, who asked for the company to do right by BTS and its reputation for sustainability.

“We care deeply about the people and the planet and dream to live on an Earth where we don’t have to experience the impact of the climate crisis,” the letter partially reads. “Hyundai could be the start of something truly green and great by withdrawing from Adaro’s aluminium as long as it is powered by coal.”

All of those petition signatures, the ARMY open letter and the campaign’s demands have now been delivered to Hyundai headquarters in South Korea – with the request for a reply by June 13th, 2023, BTS’ 10th anniversary.

We’re asking Hyundai to live by its commitment to achieve net zero by 2045

As youth fighting for a better, greener future, we won’t take greenwashing lightly anymore – that’s why we demand that Hyundai drop coal now.


Nurul Sarifah is the Campaign Team Leader for KPop4Planet. She became interested in environmental issues when she created a campaign at her university about beauty waste and learned more after she interned at Global NGOs 350.org Indonesia. She knows about youth, climate, and women empowerment issues, especially in Indonesia. 


KPOP4PLANET is a global climate activist platform launched in March 2021 by K-pop fans. It is composed of fandoms across the world, including in South Korea and Indonesia. 


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Energy Tracker Asia.

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