Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa have shattered records and toured the world, and now they have a documentary detailing their spectacular rise to the top. With a careful hand, director Caroline Suh has plumbed the intricacies of Blackpink, as a collective and as four individual women, to bring to Netflix’s Blackpink: Light Up the Sky.
The documentary manages with admirable ease the substantial task of capturing Blackpink both as distinguished global celebrities and as girls struggling with the immense pressures of the industry. Whether credit is due to Suh’s filmmaking chops or her personal relationship with her subjects, the result is an energised, alchemical romp through the highs and lows of K-pop fandom, friendship, and fame.
It’s understandable that viewers might come away from the experience of watching Light Up the Sky craving more K-pop behind-the-scenes drama and excitement. Luckily, from BTS to Twice, camera crews have been rolling for years on Korea’s favourite girl groups and boy bands. Out of hours and hours of footage, audiences might get a bombastic concert film with rehearsal and interview snippets, an intimate docuseries chronicling a frenetic global tour, or a sprawling Bildungsroman pursuing a group as they hustle to break into the mainstream.
No matter the final product, and whether it’s released on a streaming giant or on the associated K-pop act’s personal YouTube page, though, it’s always compelling. Especially when following the figures behind the music as they navigate success and loss in real time is just as often heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, tuning into a K-pop documentary film or series this week might just be the way to draw October to a riveting close.
1 / 7
Break The Silence: The Movie
BTS’ fourth feature to date, Break The Silence sees Park Jun-Soo allowed unprecedented access to some of the biggest names in K-pop. The filmmaker trains his cameras firmly on RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook as they dance, goof around, and share deeply personal stories. Billing itself as “the untold story of BTS,” Break The Silence is a sequel to 2018’s Burn The Stage: The Movie, and follows the band on its hectic 2018-2019 Love Yourself World Tour. Break The Silence is an adaptation of the seven-part Weverse docuseries of the same name, and showcases the boys’ everyday lives and heartwarming bond with one another above all.
‘Break the Silence: The Movie’ is showing at select cinemas now
2 / 7
TWICE: Seize the Light
TWICE: Seize the Light is a nine-part series that follows girl group Twice through their Twicelights World Tour. But the tour, which whisked Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu from Seoul to Tokyo to Chicago and many other cities in between, is just a part of the series. Though viewers are introduced to the goings-on on- and offstage during the North American leg of the tour, also thrown into stark relief for the first time is the girls’ four-year journey from training to stardom. The series, which premiered in April 2020 as a YouTube Original, is now available in its entirety.
Stream ‘TWICE: Seize the Light’ on Youtube now
3 / 7
Jay Park: Chosen1
A four-part docuseries for JWalkerz in quarantine, Jay Park: Chosen1 is a YouTube Original series documents celebrated singer-songwriter-actor-producer-choreographer-CEO-and-more Jay Park. The American-born former leader of boy band 2PM, Park re-debuted as a solo artist in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been a mainstay of the Korean music scene ever since. With the rare ability to transcend genre through sheer charisma, Park has seemingly been everywhere and done everything. From his origins as a Seattle b-boy to becoming the first Asian American signed to Jay-Z’s entertainment label Roc Nation, Park has plenty of stories up his sleeve, and they’re all on full display here.
Stream ‘Jay Park: Chosen1′ on Youtube Premium now
4 / 7
SMTOWN: The Stage
SM Town is a South Korean musical collective housing all recording artists contracted to SM Entertainment, one of the “big three” Korean record companies, alongside JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment. Viewers well-versed in the fandom know that we first got an in-depth cinematic look at SM Town’s stars in 2012’s documentary I Am, which followed groups like BoA, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, and f(x) to a milestone concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Three years later, SMTOWN: The Stage chronicles the omnibus concerts of nine SM Entertainment acts, now including Red Velvet and Exo. Audition tapes and perfectly-choreographed dance routines abound in this feel-good film, as the K-pop stars bound around China, Japan, and Korea.
Stream ‘SMTOWN: The Stage’ on Amazon Prime now
5 / 7
9 Muses of Star Empire
Documenting the darker side of the dream, 9 Muses of Star Empire takes a hard look at the K-pop industry. With a more critical eye towards how performers are treated and what kinds of burdens are thrust on their shoulders, a camera crew follows Nine Muses, a now-defunct girl group, over the course of a year. Charting their journey from an unsuccessful first single to heartless group lineup changes made by executives, 9 Muses captures the jealousy and competition seemingly necessary to get ahead. The blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to make it out alive of the unforgiving K-pop machinery is on full display here, and makes for an paradigm-shifting, unmissable watch.
Stream ‘9 Muses of Star Empire’ on Amazon Prime now
6 / 7
Having premiered in October 2019, Analog Trip is a welcome respite from current reality. Starring pop duo TVXQ and the members of boy band Super Junior, the Youtube Original series gleefully traipses about Yogyakarta, Indonesia with the six K-pop stars. A cross between a gameshow, reality series, and travel documentary, Analog Trip sees the boys “time travelling” to the year 2002, when they were all still trainees at SM Entertainment (and didn’t have access to modern tech—the stars are supplied with old-fashioned mobile phones and MP3 players in lieu of smartphones). Backpacking through Indonesia and writing songs along the way, the docuseries is also a welcome opportunity for each member of the two groups to reflect on their respective relationships and journeys.
Stream ‘Analog Trip’ on Youtube now
7 / 7
Big Bang Made: The Movie
A 2016 doc featuring boy band Big Band on their comeback Made World Tour. After a three-year hiatus, Big Bang embarked upon a dazzling (but gruelling) 340-day journey that drew 1.5 million fans into stadiums and tour venues in 32 countries around the world. Featuring plenty of candid, relaxed moments in addition to perfectly stylised choreography, Big Bang Made shows the boys—G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri—being themselves and baring their souls to the camera. Over two hours long, this meaty flick will be best appreciated by all true-blue members of VIP, the Big Bang fandom.
Buy or rent ‘Big Bang Made: The Movie’ on iTunes now