Korean pop group mistaken for sex workers at US airport
A KOREAN girl pop group has been forced to fly home from Los Angeles after airport officials allegedly suspected its members of being sex workers.
Oh My Girl, which has eight members aged from 16 to 21, said in a statement they were held for fifteen hours at Los Angeles International Airport by customs and border officials.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the airport was suspicious of the number of props, clothing and staff accompanying the band.
"As young women, they were mistaken as 'working women', which has recently been a big issue in the US," the band's management company said in a press statement.
Young South Korean women are facing increasing scrutiny from border officials who suspect them of entering the city to work the Koreatown nightlight scene, reported the Los Angeles Times.
"Doumi" girls - women who are paid by businesses to encourage male patrons to drink - are not legally allowed and have been particularly cracked down on, according to a previous Los Angeles Times article.
Koreatown, believed to have been established in the 1960s, is in the west of the city and is the most densely populated district in Los Angeles County.
Oh My Girl may also have encountered a visa problem, their representatives added, despite only doing a promotional event and not needing a performance visa.
The band eventually got back on a plane and returned to Seoul, they said.
The US Customs and Border Protection said the agency could not confirm or deny the pop group's claims, said a spokesman.
"Privacy Act prevents CBP from disclosing arrival/departure records of international travelers," he said.