All-girl Korean pop group claim they were mistaken for sex workers, while customs officials said they did not have the proper visa to enter the United States
An official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is going on the record to clarify why an all-girl Korean pop group was denied entry into the United States. Speaking anonymously to the Los Angeles Times, the official claims the band “Oh My Girl” was blocked at customs for having the wrong type of visa to enter at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The group were stopped from entering after landing at the airport on Wednesday, December 9. In a statement published by their promoter, the band accused CBP officials of mistaking the group for prostitutes, citing the identity confusion as the primary reason the band was held by authorities.
“As young women, they were mistaken as ‘working women’ which has recently been a big issue in the U.S.,” promoter WM Entertainment wrote in a Korean-language statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. The statement went on to claim they did not need a special visa to enter the United States, because the group would be appearing at a promotional event.
However, a CBP speaking under anonymity to the newspaper claims that the visa mixup was the reason the eight women were not allowed to enter the country. The official claimed the group lied about entering the country as tourists, trying to take advantage of the visa waiver program extended to South Koreans instead of obtaining the proper P1 performance visa.
“We were doing what we do every day,” the anonymous official told the Los Angeles Times. “We send people back all the time.”
The alleged visa mix-up comes as Congress is debating changes to immigration and tourism laws. On Tuesday, December 8, CNN reported the House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban those who have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria from being able to enter the United States under the visa waiver program for up to five years.