Today in everyone-is-so-fucked-up news: Oh My Girl, a new-but-popular K-pop group with eight members aged 16 to 21, were detained at LAX airport in Los Angeles because someone—customs? TSA? someone—reportedly presumed they were sex workers. In fact, they were traveling to the US to shoot the cover of their debut album and to perform at a gala.

The BBC reports:

A statement from the group’s record company, WM Entertainment, said authorities held them after going through their costumes and props.

“They seem to have mistaken them as sex workers,” said a spokesman.

[...]

WM Entertainment says it is taking legal advice in the US to find out whether the band’s detention was legal.

The group returned to Seoul after being detained for either seven or 15 hours (reports are conflicting). The worst part of this story is that the problem appeared to arise after customs went through the group’s luggage and saw their costumes. Writes Korea’s Nate News, as translated by Soompi:

“The members of Oh My Girl and their staff successfully passed through immigration, but it appears that their filming equipment and outfits for the album jacket shoot have become a problem. Apparently there has been a misunderstanding during the customs inspection. We are trying to find out what exactly has happened.”

The layers to this story are gross and multitudinous; the idea of a customs official seeing matching clothing and young Korean girls and assuming they were sex workers—if that is indeed how it went down—is horrible not only because they shouldn’t have been assumed as such, but also because they must see such scenarios with some frequency. And of course by “sex workers,” with women so young, you can surmise that they meant “trafficked,” the darkest undertone of the whole thing.

Oh My Girl’s debut single, “Closer,” is above.


Contact the author at julianne@jezebel.com.