An all-girl pop group got international publicity last week when it was detained at Los Angeles International Airport for a reported 15 hours.

Oh My Girl band of South Korea. Photo via kpopstarz.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at LAX thought the members of Oh My Girl, ages 16-21, might be sex workers.

In fact, they’re closer to Hello Kitty. Now the recently formed eight-member group (like the Monkees for a new generation) has a promotional appeal beyond their talents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials detained the South Korean pop band at LAX last week.

The band returned home, but its managers released this statement:

1. First off, we apologize for being late to grasp the situation on the connection interruption which Oh My Girl and all the staff experienced.

2. On December 9, Oh My Girl traveled to the United States for their album jacket photoshoot. And we had already told the interested parties that while we were in the U.S., Oh My Girl would open for the L.A. event ‘Unforgettable 2015’ which both celebrities and producers were attending.

We were thankful that this would be an opportunity for rookie girl group Oh My Girl to meet representatives, and we decided to take part in promotions. Since the event was not our own solo performance, there was no need to receive a performance visa.

3. After this, Oh My Girl and the staff had no problem with the procedures at the [Los Angeles] airport immigration office and passed through, but a problem arose while at customs.

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.

4. 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.

5. A lawyer in the U.S. is taking the effort to make sure the unjust treatment of being detained is valid or not. We sincerely apologize for causing anxiety and thank everyone who worried for us.

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