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BLACKPINK unveiled: Netflix documentary searches beyond the spotlight

Choi Ji-won

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Seoul, South Korea  /  Thu, October 15, 2020  /  12:35 pm

Before they became a global K-pop sensation, the four members of BLACKPINK had their ordinary moments, growing up in different parts of the globe and coming together to spread back out to the world as a unit.

The new Netflix original documentary BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky shows the personal stories on how the four girls turned into K-pop’s biggest girl group.

Ahead of the film’s release, the quartet conducted a global press conference in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon, joined by the documentary’s director Caroline Suh from New York through videoconference. The event was livestreamed due to concerns over COVID-19.

“It felt new even for us to face our young selves. We’ve only shown the flashy side of us since our debut so with the documentary we wanted to reveal the more ordinary side of us,” the band’s rapper Jennie said, adding, “We’ve been wondering how we should reveal our stories, and in meeting director Suh, the work progressed smoothly.”

Although never a fan of K-pop herself, Suh said that, as a Korean-American, she had always been fascinated about the fast-spreading industry.

Suh previously produced the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary Salt Fat Acid Heat.

"I wanted to show how the group was born and the paths they have walked to become BLACKPINK. We listened to their stories in each of the members’ perspectives,” Suh said.

The group is the first K-pop act and the fourth female artist to be featured in a Netflix original documentary, following Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

“It’s an honor to have our names alongside such global stars. We’ve unreservedly shared how the four of us have worked hard together until now,” the team’s eldest member Jisoo said.

“Honest” and “personal” seem to be the keywords of the documentary chronicling their journey, going beyond the four years since their debut in 2016. According to Suh, she reviewed hundreds of hours of footage provided by the group’s label YG Entertainment.

From childhood stories of each of the members to their time as trainees, the documentary breaks down the group to its roots, while also sharing unveiled behind-the-scenes clips from their biggest moments, such as their performance at Coachella.

Read also: From teens to superstars: Netflix film tracks BLACKPINK's rise

Rose, the group’s Korean member of Australian background, said the diverse languages spoken in the documentary proves how sincerely the members have opened up. “To speak more honestly, we answered in our most comfortable languages. Jennie and I spoke in English, while Jisoo said in Korean and Lisa in Thai. There’s a lot of language, but I think that itself also symbolizes us.”

In working with the four, Suh said she realized that there were strenuous efforts and good hearts behind the girls’ achievements. Although coming together as bandmates, the girls were more like sisters and families for each other, the director added.

With the documentary as a rare occasion putting the girls in front of cameras off the stage, Lisa, the group’s member hailing from Thailand, said the experience was surprisingly easy, thanks to Suh who made a comfortable environment for the members.

“It was awkward at first to be honest as we’re not used to opening up our daily lives, but we soon became used to the cameras,” Lisa said, adding, “It was all fun. I’m so thrilled that it’s finally coming. I hope everyone likes it.”

The members also had the chance to have a look back on their own journeys in becoming K-pop superstars.

Rose said, “Although we all came from strikingly different backgrounds, when it came to music, we’d always have our hearts in the same place. I think we’ve grown to resemble each other.”

According to Rose, the title comes from the lyrics of their song “How You Like That” on their recent album, adding she feels the group glows the brightest when the four are together.

Closing the event, Jisoo said, “While we had worked for our dream before debuting, we now have people who support us. Although much has changed around us, the four of us are all the same inside,” adding, “We hope the documentary takes us closer to our fans, Blinks.”

Making a grand entrance into the K-pop music scene in August 2016 with their first single “Square One”, BLACKPINK topped music charts in and out of the country. Releasing their first full-length album The Album on Oct. 2, the quartet became the first K-pop girl group to debut No. 2 on Billboard 200 chart and No. 2 on the main album chart of Britain’s Official Charts. The group has landed seven songs on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart, also the best feat achieved as a Korean female act.

The documentary premiered exclusively through Netflix in over 190 countries on Wednesday. 

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This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post