A Review of Blackpink's "Light Up the Sky" Documentary

After months of anticipation, Netflix released its latest documentary centered around South Korean girl group, Blackpink. Since 2016, the chart-topping kpop group has been known for their smash hits and most recently, their collaborations with pop superstars, Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga. At first glance, the documentary seems rather ordinary and was advertised as just another sneak peek into the behind-the-scenes of the members’ lives and yet, after watching it, seems to also be a closer analysis of South Korea’s cutthroat idol industry and Hallyu culture (the global popularity of Korean pop culture).

The film begins with the four girls entering the studio to listen to a finalized version of their collaboration with Lady Gaga, “Sour Candy.” Their producer, Teddy Park, is a longtime fixture of their company, YG Entertainment, and begins the documentary by offering his insight into each of the members’ personalities. Immediately after, it segues into clips of jam-packed concert stadiums and electrifying performances before switching to individual interviews with each member. First, we meet Lisa, the main dancer and rapper of the group who hails from Thailand. Then, we meet Jennie, the group’s main singer, who was born in Korea and raised in Australia before returning to Korea again to audition for YG Entertainment. Rosé is also from Australia and both of them reminisce fondly over their childhoods. Jisoo, the oldest member, is the vocalist of the group, and as Teddy states, is just “straight up Korean.”  

From there, the rest of the documentary ping-pongs between old home videos from each members’ childhoods, concert clips of raving fans, interviews with close friends and, of course, interviews with each member. While each members’ individual stories are touching and vulnerable on their own, the one thing that united them all was their time spent training together to become idols. Right as they delve into intense training schedules, grueling restrictions on their diets, and brutal monthly evaluations from company higher-ups, we see the harsh reality of what it takes to become an idol in South Korea. Both Rosé and Jisoo lament over being unable to see their families for months on end. The pressure and brutality of idol trainee schools are notorious and yet they are glamorized with their promise of turning trainees into superstars overnight. While the members all agree that the process took a huge toll on them, they are all grateful still for being able to debut and gain worldwide success. 

After the documentary shares a triumphant clip from the group’s debut introduction, it is clear that trainee school was just the beginning. The group acknowledges the hardships of being in the spotlight, citing the immense pressure from the public and their jam-packed schedules as the main sources. Jennie touches on how performing multiple concerts takes a toll on her health and Rosé even opens up about how being away from her family because of touring has taken an emotional toll. A clip shows Jennie working with physical trainers backstage, wincing in pain, and several more show the members worn out after a concert. Despite the glitz and glamour of stardom, it is clear that their struggles do not end there. 

While all four girls have shared the same struggles in their journey from trainees to full-fledged idols, their individuality shines through in this documentary. With its startlingly candid look at the industry and the journey each girl undergoes, BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky has shown to be a testament to Blackpink’s grit and resilience. While their fans may fawn over their visuals and songs, this documentary highlights the talent and determination of these young women and their dedication to their craft.