Do the Korean vehicles made by KIA have trouble selling in the US because of its name?

I always pronounce it K-K-K-Kia like the old chia pet commercial from decades ago.

Another urban legend, I guess. I stand corrected.

I’ve never heard of anyone making that connection, but I guess you couldn’t rule out some tiny % of potential buyers.

Kia does have two unfortunate homonyms in Korean. As others mentioned it’s not an acronym for Korea x x. It’s the Korean pronunciation of two Chinese characters chosen as the name by the company’s Japanese founders (the company and name date from WWII when Japan ruled Korea): 起亞 meaning roughly ‘rise Asia’ although that’s not a word in Korean besides the name of this company. But nowadays Koreans write mostly just in their alphabet and the spelling of those two characters in the Korean alphabet, 기아, is the same as two fairly common Chinese-derived words in Korean meaning ‘famine’ (飢餓) and ‘foundling’ (棄兒).

However, the Korean language has loads of homonyms so native speakers don’t seem as sensitive about potentially embarrassing homonyms as speakers of some other languages.


God bless you!

I’ve heard the Kia - KIA connection before and it strikes me as probably more known among veterans. The guy I head it from is a Vietnam vet and he said it kind of jokingly because we were talking about how we both drive Hyundais. It was something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, great cars, love mine…but never a Kia, you know, Killed in Action, ha ha.” I think I said something about how I could come up with a similar acronym for HYUNDAI so he’d have to sell his car, which earned me some good-natured threats and cussing. My guess is the Kia-KIA thing started as general anti-Korean sentiment from Korean War vets and was picked up by my friend at the VFW, VA, or somewhere like that. Kind of reminds me of the a bar I go to that has a bunch of Vietnam vet regulars and there are always “Hanoi Jane” stickers in the urinals in the men’s room. Carrying a grudge against the people who were trying to kill you seems pretty common.

IIRC, the South Koreans were on our side. Or more accurately, we were on their side.

That kind of sounds like the Vietnamizing of the Korean War a al MASH etc. The Korean War was fought for South Korea against a Communist force eventually mainly consisting of ‘Chinese Peoples Volunteers’, and that force inflicted most of the stinging setbacks to US forces over the whole war, in a largely conventional conflict where the South Korean population was in general strongly on the UN side. Then after the war South Korea remained independent, mission (sort of) accomplished. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense for people who served in the Korean War to hate South Korean imports.

In Vietnam the US lost (effectively, not to sidetrack on definitions of ‘lost’) a mainly non-conventional conflict with a good part of the South Vietnamese population sympathizing with the enemy. Then Vietnam united under that US enemy. So it makes a little more sense for Vietnam vets to have a distaste for all things Vietnamese. Similarly as on the ‘Mad Men’ episode (and my dad was like that too) it made some sense ca. 1960’s for Pacific War vets to resent Japanese imports. Their war was against Japan, not part of Japan.

Not that everyone has to make sense, but I’ve known fairly many Korean War vets and they didn’t typically have general anti-Korean sentiment.

I don’t think the name has much impact.

There used to be some very poor quality Korean-made cars on the US market, and Americans who associate “Korean-made car” with “Hyundai Pony” may still be suspicious. But for that group of people, either they will look and see that obviously the newer Korean cars are much better, or they will refuse to consider the possibility and that’s that.

Nobody, seeing the name Kia, will assume that it seriously means Killed In Action.

Most will not even notice that the letters are the same.

Of the ones who do notice the coincidence, only a tiny number will care.

That would be Fiat.

I tend to associate it with the sound one makes just before smashing a pile of bricks with one’s hands.

Not according to post # 3, I suggest you take that up with that poster.

Fiats make a wooshing sound when they go by.

He was correcting your spelling; in your earlier post, you misspelled it as “Hyundia” all three times that you mentioned it.

Quick, what sound do they make with a flat tire?

And just to be clear, post #3 spells Hyundai correctly.

The sound of one hand clapping.

To the extent KIA has a problem selling in the U.S. because they’re still viewed by a lot of people as cheap, unreliable, unglamorous junk, not because of the connotations of the initials. Basically they’re close to Toyota quality with close to a Yugo reputation.

A moment’s reflection leads me to suspect the answer is rapid repetition of a perjorative three-letter slur for Italians. Being one-quarter Italiano, I’m allowed to say I think it’s funny.

First on race day.

Or fucked over, rebuilt Dodge.