K-Pop Group Oh My Girl Denied Entry To U.S. Over Suspicions Of Being ‘Sex Workers’
Suddenly, "OMG" has taken on a whole new level of meaning.
On Wednesday December 9, Oh My Girl, a South Korean girl-band with eight members, including a handful of young teenage girls, was allegedly held at LAX for over fifteen hours. What was the hold up, you might ask? Apparently—and get ready to cringe—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials had suspected the girls might be sex workers. Yikes.
According to a statement released by the group's management team and label, WM Entertainment, the girls had been flagged by the TSA after finding matching outfits and various props in the girls' luggage. However, the band has revealed that the clothing and props were to be used for an album cover the group was scheduled shoot while in Los Angeles, where the band was also in town to perform at an event.
In addition, it seems like there may have been a language barrier issue, with the members of the band referring to one another as "sisters" after being asked by the TSA about their relationship to one another.
You can read the full statement released by WM Entertainment, below:
First off, we apologize for being late to grasp the situation on the connection interruption which Oh My Girl and all the staff experienced.
On December 9, Oh My Girl traveled to the United States for their album jacket photoshoot. And we had already told the interested parties that while we were in the U.S., Oh My Girl would open for the L.A. event 'Unforgettable 2015' which both celebrities and producers were attending. We were thankful that this would be an opportunity for rookie girl group Oh My Girl to meet representatives, and we decided to take part in promotions. Since the event was not our own solo performance, there was no need to receive a performance visa.
After this, Oh My Girl and the staff had no problem with the procedures at the [Los Angeles] airport immigration office and passed through, but a problem arose while at customs. The person in charge of customs asked Oh My Girl and the staff what relationship they had with each other, and one of the staff used the word 'sister' and a misunderstanding occurred. They thought it was strange that we were not blood related, but said that we were 'sisters'. And so they took extra attention to the large quantity of items and outfits we had. And since the members are young girls, they were mistaken as 'working women' (prostitutes) which the U.S. has a big issue with right now.
After the misunderstanding was resolved, we were sent back to the airport immigration office, and had communication with the airport staff, and our opinion was not straightened out. And in the previous step, our phones were seized and it was an extreme situation where we could not contact anyone outside. The company was detained for a long period of 15 hours, and we decided to go back to Korea because of the members who were tired physically and emotionally.
A lawyer in the U.S. is taking the effort to make sure the unjust treatment of being detained is valid or not. We sincerely apologize for causing anxiety and thank everyone who worried for us.
So far, there's no word on whether or not the group will be back to perform in the States any time soon. But who could blame them?
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