Over the weekend, South Korean girl group Oh My Girl were forced to fly home after spending 15 hours detained at Los Angeles International Airport.
The band, who have a total of eight members, were on their way to a performance and photo shoot in LA when they were stopped and questioned by officials.
According to a statement released by WM Entertainment, border security became suspicious when they noticed that the band were carrying a large number of costumes and props. “As young women, they were mistaken as ‘working women’, which has recently been a big issue in the U.S,” they explained, before adding that the group “did not need a performance visa”.
According to the LA Times, there has been a recent police clampdown on “Doumi girls” – women who are paid to hang out in private rooms at Koreatown’s karaoke spots in LA. Because of this, Korean women are facing increasing scrutiny from immigration authorities based on the suspicion that they may be entering the country to illegally work in the Koreatown sex work scene.
The US Customs and Border Protection were unable to confirm the band’s claims, saying: “Privacy Act prevents CBP from disclosing arrival/departure records of international travellers.”