Over the past decade or so, the Hallyu Movement (also known as the Korean Wave) has caused an increase in K-pop idol groups' international attention. As a result, more Korean music entertainment labels, such as SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment, have invested more money and resources in pleasing international fans.
The investment in international fans is more present over the past five years more than any other time. So Nyeo Shi Dae (better known as Girls' Generation) grew so much in popularity that SM Entertainment thought their popular K-pop idol girl group could break into the American music industry with their album The Boys. CL has stood out from the rest of her K-pop idol girl group, 2NE1, that YG Entertainment is backing her solo career in the American music industry. Finally, the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards (also known as MAMA 2015), which is probably the biggest K-pop awards show, does not take place in Korea where K-pop originated, but in Hong Kong.
Given the presence Korean music entertainment labels, or most Asian entertainment labels, in general, have outside of their respective country, they should have all the legalities down when it comes to international travel. For a situation pertaining to rookie K-pop idol girl group Oh My Girl, that might not be the case. Recently, they were detained at LAX for being mistaken as sex workers. However, LAX officials claim they detained Oh My Girl because some of its members lied about their visas. Question is, which one is true?
Oh My Girl, the eight-member K-pop idol girl group signed to WM Entertainment, was reportedly traveling to the United States to partake in their first fan meet-and-greet in the United States, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. HyoJung, JinE, Mimi, YooA, Seung Hee, Jiho, Binnie, and Arin were scheduled to perform at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last Saturday, December 12, 2015.
Unfortunately for Oh My Girl, they would not get the chance to entertain their American fans because they were detained in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for a total of 15 hours before being sent back to South Korea. WM Entertainment claims that Oh My Girl (in which their members are aged between 16 to 21) were mistaken as "working women," a more acceptable term for "sex worker." WM Entertainment also claims LAX officials came to this conclusion because of all the props and costumes that came along with Oh My Girl, probably for live stage performances of their songs "Cupid" and "Closer."
To be fair, if LAX officials are unfamiliar with Oh My Girl or K-pop in general, it can be easy to assume the worst, especially since Los Angeles authorities are doing what they can to crackdown on Asian "working women," a situation that has increased in the city. However, all it takes is a quick search of their music videos on YouTube or even their information page on Wikipedia to learn Oh My Girl is a legit K-pop idol group. So what happened that caused them to be sent back to South Korea?
According to New York Daily News, the problem was not Oh My Girl being mistaken for "sex workers" per se, but that some of their members (or all of them depending on other sources) have lied about their intentions for being in the United States in the first place. Apparently, they said they were visiting the country not as entertainers, but tourists.
"They misrepresented themselves. In the baggage inspections they found all the props and equipment they used to perform. They finally confessed that they were coming to perform."
To be fair, WM Entertainment is a fairly new; they were founded back in 2011. Because of this, they may have accidentally dropped the ball when it came to informing Oh My Girl, which is technically the label's second group, how to present themselves when it comes to international travel laws and restrictions.
[Image via Oh My Girls' Official Facebook]