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Three Korean pop music fans purchased premium cabin tickets on a Korean Air flight departing Hong Kong for Seoul on Saturday in order to gain access to popular K-pop band Wanna One.

The band members of Wanna One had performed at the 2018 M-net Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong the night before, and boarded the flight just before takeoff, taking seats in the first-class cabin. The fans, who had purchased full-fare first class and business-class tickets and brandished posters of the band, swarmed the performers and ignored flight crew requests to stay seated in order for the flight to depart on time.

According to local newspaper Chosun Ilbo, the fans then demanded to leave the plane, despite being told that their request would force the entire plane load of 360 passengers to disembark and undergo full security screening procedures again — a measure designed to prevent anyone from boarding in order to plant a bomb on board. Furthermore, the fans insisted on a full refund for their full-fare tickets, to which they were entitled under Korean Air policy. One Korean Air employee told Chosun Ilbo, “We told the three passengers not to disembark, but it was no use.”

As a result of the fans’ disruptive behavior, the Korean Air flight departed Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) about an hour late, forcing the airline to compensate the other travelers on board for the delay.

TPG reached out to Korean Air for comment, but did not hear from the airline by the time of publication.

Although the fans have not been identified, news outlets have reported them to be in their 20s, from Hong Kong and Mainland China, with local newspaper Hankook Ilbo going so far as to call them “idiots” for their actions. 

Chosun Ilbo stated that hardcore fans in Asia have begun to purchase pricy premium-cabin tickets solely for the opportunity to get closer access to their celebrity idols, screaming and snapping photos well past the security checkpoints in a very disruptive manner. Many purchase first-class tickets because ticket holders are entitled to full or almost-full refunds for missed flights, and fans often make money off of the paparazzi-style videos or images they capture up close. Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) is notorious for such homegrown paparazzi incidents, because Korean law does not prosecute people who enter departure areas without intention of boarding their flights.

Featured photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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