The all-girl K-pop band Oh My Girl was detained in LAX on December 9 under the suspicion that they were a group of sex workers after a misunderstanding about the word “sister”.
The band, which includes eight members, were in the United States to shoot the cover of their upcoming album and perform at an event, according to KPop Herald.
The band was held up after arriving in the U.S. for nearly 15 hours while immigration authorities searched through their costumes and props. After they were released, they flew back to South Korea. Oh My Girl was booked to perform at a gala in L.A. this week.
In a short statement, the band’s agency, WM Entertainment, did their best to explain what happened:
“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.”
The band’s agency is now taking legal advice in the U.S. to determine whether or not the detention was lawful.