A South Korean girl band made waves this week when its management team said band members were detained and denied entry at Los Angeles International Airport because authorities believed they were prostitutes — but a federal official has since denied the claims, saying the group did not possess the proper visas to enter the United States.
The K-Pop group Oh My Girl was reportedly detained for 15 hours at LAX after arriving from South Korea on Wednesday because airport authorities had mistaken the eight women, aged between 16 and 21, for “working women,” according to a widely reported statement from the band’s management company, WM Entertainment.
“As young women, they were mistaken as ‘working women,’ which has recently been a big issue in the U.S.,” the management company said in a statement, according to a translation in the Los Angles Times.
The company said authorities became suspicious when they noticed the large number of costumes and props the girl group had been traveling with. According to WM Entertainment’s version of events, the group became exasperated with the lengthy detention and flew back to South Korea, foregoing a planned photo shoot and promotional concert appearance.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official would not initially confirm or deny the management company’s version of the story to the paper.
However, a federal official told LA Weekly that the girl group was never suspected of being prostitutes, and they were simply detained due to the “lack of a necessary performance visa.” The official said federal authorities believed the women were “coached” to say they were not scheduled to perform in the country, and thus did not need a visa. When authorities discovered they were indeed scheduled to perform, they were ordered to be sent back on the next flight home.
The official also told LA Weekly that the women were never detained for 15 hours, but simply had to wait for their return flight home.
Check out Oh My Girl’s “Closer” below.