The environment ministry said that the suit - filed with the Seoul Central Prosecutor's Office - targeted Johannes Thammer, managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea.

The ministry said that the recall plans submitted by Volkswagen were unacceptable and lacked key information – including details of how the problem had occurred and how it would be fixed. Similar issues were cited by US environmental regulators last week when they turned down Volkswagen's initial recall plan for emission-cheating vehicles sold in the US market.

The world's number-two automaker faces legal action in several countries, after it admitted in September of faking US emissions tests on some of its diesel engine vehicles.

In November, South Korea ordered Volkswagen Korea to recall more than 125,000 diesel-powered cars sold in the Korean market and fined the company 14.1 billion won (USD 12.3 million). It also demanded detailed recall plans by January 6 that would specify how the emissions of the cars in question would be improved.

A Volkswagen Korea spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, but told media that the company would submit "a revised recall plan that supplements the ministry's requests".