K-pop girl group allegedly misidentified as ‘working girls’ by LAX customs

December 11, 2015
(Courtesy of WM Entertainment)

(Courtesy of WM Entertainment)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles

The K-pop girl group that was detained for about 15 hours by U.S. customs authorities at Los Angeles International Airport this week were allegedly mistaken as “working girls,” according to Korean media.

Oh My Girl, an eight-member band under WM Entertainment, arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday to perform as a guest at a Saturday gala put on by local Asian American-interest magazines.

According to LAX officials, the group was held by customs and, with second-round inspections left, returned to Korea on a flight that left Thursday.

WM said the group passed through immigration before running into trouble at customs, where staff were asked what their relationship was with the group.

One of the staff mentioned the word “sister,” causing a misunderstanding, given the girls’ young ages as well as the props and outfits brought with them for performing and filming. Customs suspected the group were working girls, WM said.

The oldest member of the group is 21, and the youngest 16.

According to the agency, the members entered with travel visas, not performance visas, because the gala guest event was not a solo concert.

“The staff went back to immigrations to explain the situation to airport officials, but their cellphones were confiscated and they had no way of communicating,” WM said. “After 15 hours, they decided to head back to Korea for the sake of the members, who were emotionally and physically drained.”

Meanwhile, an LAX official said the detainment was a visa issue stemming from the group not having acquired performance visas.


  1. Marlo Rocci

    December 12, 2015 at 2:52 AM

    This is insane. Immigration lets in terrorists but blocks a Kpop girl group. Somebody needs to get fired over this.

  2. Marlo Rocci

    December 12, 2015 at 3:19 AM

    The customs officials could have easily googled the name of the group, confirmed their identities, and let them through. Somehow Customs appears to be incapable of a simple google search?

  3. Brad

    December 12, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I can tell you it was the Korean-American interpreters who told Customs these Ladys were working girls. This had to be a horrifying experience for the girls. Utter stupidity on Customs part.

    I just hope this never happens to Sunny or Tiffany

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  5. Ave Satana

    November 15, 2016 at 8:09 PM

    Such utter bullshit. Of course, they were “working girls”, which is how the girls’ group’s management described them to their Korean compatriot newspapers. On other Korea newspapers’ sites, the words “sex workers” and “prostitutes”, which is what Oh My Girl’s management seeded them to believe, were used.

    The band’s management didn’t procure the appropriate visa work visa for working. It’s a totally lame and BS excuse to claim that because they weren’t headlining they weren’t working.