Corporate / Lifestyle

Making connections: the creators of The Korean Car Blog February 25th, 2014

The most fascinating thing about the Internet is its sheer volume of information. It’s as if a virtual big bang created a universe of everything you’d ever want or need to know. And that universe, of course, is inhabited by intelligent life and like-minded others, congregating in the far corners of the blogosphere, social networks, and other online communities. It’s a world where there truly is something for everyone.

With that in mind, Kia set out to connect with people genuinely passionate about Kia and our cars. Jose Antonio Lopez and Erick Uceda are avid auto aficionados who pride themselves on their knowledge of the Kia brand. Their passion for driving and creatively customizing Kia cars led them to a Kia forum where they first met, and now they collaborate on The Korean Car Blog.

Here are some excerpts from our interview with these two fans, showing how Kia became the very spark of connection and collaboration.

Meet n’ greet

Kia: Please introduce yourselves!

Jose: My name is Jose Antonio Lopez, also known as “loubeat” on Kia forums around the world. I’m 26 years old and I live in Elche, Alicante, Spain. I studied business and marketing, and also I work as a Kia Sales Manager at our local dealer. My hobbies are cars, everything about Kia, nature, photography, technology and sports. I have organized many Kia cee’d meets in my country.

Erick: My name is Erick Uceda and I am known as LePapirrikY. I am 28 years old now, and I live in Dallas, Texas USA, but I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. I work as an accountant for many companies. My hobbies are reading about new technology, photography, meeting up with new people, and of course modifying my Kia. I am the former Streetkiaz Texas chapter leader, where I was in charge of all the meets and events happening in Texas over the past 5 years, including last year’s Streetkiaz National Event.

<Jose, at work at a Kia dealership in Spain>

<Erick with Kia Racing Driver Mark Wilkins>

<Kia meet in Texas / Kia cee’d and pro cee’d GT meet in Spain>

Kia: How did you two meet?

Erick: I visit many Kia forums from different countries, but one of the Kia forums I frequented was Spain’s, and there I met Jose. We started talking and later became good friends.

Jose: Erick posted about modifying his Rio, and I was very interested in how he made those modifications (because Spanish regulations sometimes are restrictive when it comes to car modifications). Then we started talking and later become good friends although we live so far from each other.

Kia: Do you drive a Kia? 

Erick: I drive a 2006 Blue Sapphire Kia Rio, which currently is heavily modified with aftermarket parts and also OEM parts that did not come stock with my car. The list of modifications is very extensive, but I can assure you that the modifications made mine one unique Rio. One picture of my car was shown on Kia Buzz as the June Kia Fan Photo of the Month.

Jose: Yes, at first my parents had a 1998 Kia Shuma I (known as Spectra in other markets) and I grew up in that car, so that was when my passion for Kia began. I drove that car when I got my driver’s license in 2006, then I bought my own Kia, a 2007 cee’d 1.6 CRDi in Emotion Black Pearl (fully-equipped version). Currently the car is completely OEM.

<Erick’s Rio and Jose’s ‘ceed OEM>

Kia: Tell us about the Korean Car Blog.

Jose: We are working on our blog every day and publish fresh contents, including the latest info about future Kia cars, current Kia models, interviews with fans who have made the best modifications on their Kias, green technology and auto shows. We aim to be the number one English-language Korean car blog.

Kia: How did you guys start the blog?

Jose: We decided to create the blog after we saw a couple things missing in some forums we visited. We knew we had the opportunity to offer the latest news and history about Kia and Hyundai and about Erick’s knowledge of modifications. Based on our knowledge, and after weeks of interaction, we finally shared all there is to know by creating The Korean Car Blog.

Erick: In early 2011, we started by creating a blogspot website. Now we use WordPress for the blog and we’re also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Flickr. We first started in Spanish but now we write everything in English. The name of our blog is a little bit obvious but we wanted to make it easy to remember. Our blog posts are about both the Kia and Hyundai brands, so what better name for the blog than a self-explanatory one, right? Initially we had many visitors from Spanish speaking countries, but since switching over to English, we now have visitors from Canada, Malaysia, Germany, Russia, Spain, Chile and the Philippines. But our regular members are mainly from the U.S.

Kia: How did you build your audience?

Erick: It took some time to build our audience. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but by visiting the different forums and meeting their respective owners we were able to post some of our articles and gain some momentum. One of our biggest supporters is Mark Ingalls from the Streetkiaz forums, where we are able to post our latest blog posts. After we joined Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, we were able to get more people interested.


Meeting Kia for the first time

Kia: How did you first become interested in Kia cars?

Erick: For me it was after I saw a Kia ad on TV. At first I wanted the Spectra I had seen in the ad, but once I went to the parking lot, I knew the shiny blue Rio had to be my car!

Jose: After my parents bought the Kia Shuma, I started to look more into the brand (Kia just arrived in Spain 2 years prior). Every week I searched for more information and looked at the Kia website to get info about all Kia models—especially the models that are not available in Spain.

Kia: What do you love about Kia?

Erick: I have to say EVERYTHING! Not just the cars, but also Kia employees. All the new cars Kia brings to the driver always seem to fit them perfectly. My mother is in love with her new 2014 Kia Forte—not just with the car itself, but with the amazing service we had at the dealer. I have to say thanks to all those at the Southwest Kia Mesquite dealer, not only for the service done on my mother’s Kia Forte but also for all the help they give us for our meets here in Texas.

Jose: I agree with Erick. For me, it was both Kia and the Kia global employees I have met until now, like Colin Jang (I had the opportunity to meet him on Facebook and finally met him at the 2012 Paris Motor Show), Mr. Soon Nam Lee, Peter Schreyer, and everyone who helped me.

<Jose at the Paris Motor Show with a Kia employee and Peter Schreyer>

Kia: What do you think of Kia Motors?

Erick: Kia is a growing company, and even though they have already proven to many customers what they can do (Cadenza, Optima and Forte, for instance), I believe they still have much more to show. I also think of Kia as a good opportunity for families to own a car—an affordable but good car with all the latest technology found on more expensive cars.

Jose: When I bought my cee’d in 2007, I said that it needed another generation to fight with European cars, and now with the latest generation cee’d and the new Carens Kia is ready to eat a larger piece of the cake of traditionally enjoyed by European carmakers.

Kia: Your favorite Kia model?

Erick: Well this is something I ALWAYS say to everyone and that is the Kia Kee! That is my dream car. So of course my next favorite car has to be the Kia GT, is a very sleek, unique and fantastic car but the best of all, it’s a RWD car! Yes, that will be my next brand new car.

Jose: Erick loves the Kee. I mean, he talks about this car ALL the time, hahaha. I love all Kia models, specially the Optima/K5 and the pro_cee’d GT. I dream about driving it one day.

Challenges in collaborating and the journey ahead

Kia: Is it difficult to run the blog since you guys are in different countries with different time zones?

Erick: Definitely! We have a 7-hour time difference so my mornings are the only time we can talk. In the beginning it was hard, but eventually we’ve been able to manage our time and so far everything has been good.

Jose: Yeah, it’s pretty difficult because of the time difference, but I think we do the best we can since Erick and I have had good communication using Google Talk and, currently, Hangouts.

Kia: Looking back, what did you gain from this experience?

Erick: Well, where to begin… I am very thankful to Kia, because through the passion we share, I was able to meet great people like Jose, who has become a very good friend of mine, and also Mark Ingalls from Streetkiaz and even the people from the Southwest Kia Mesquite dealership. It’s really awesome to have been able to meet such incredible people through sharing the same passion for one brand. My years with Kia are just starting and I can’t wait to see how things will look in the future.

Jose: Thanks to Kia, I met Erick and other friends around the world, had the opportunity to work in a field I love, including at a local Kia dealer, thanks to my interest in Kia models. I hope my relationship with Kia will continue to grow. Who knows? Someday, you might find me working for Kia in its marketing and communications division in the future.