Since their debut in August 2016, BLACKPINK has become the highest-charting female K-pop group of all time with their innovative music, eye-popping music videos and internet-breaking fashion concepts. BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY serves up the never-before-seen moments that BLACKPINK’s global fandom — known as “BLINKs” — have been craving for years.
Directed by Caroline Suh (Netflix’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”), the documentary goes deep with each of BLACKPINK’s four members: Jisoo, the whip-smart unnie (“big sister”) of the group with a quirky sense of humor; Jennie, the rapper whose fierce onstage persona contrasts with her soft-spoken nature; Rosé, the dulcet-voiced Australian coming into her own as a singer-songwriter; and Lisa, the dancing queen
whose spark plug personality never fails to make her bandmates laugh.
As BLACKPINK continues reaching new heights in their career — from headlining sold-out world tours to becoming the first female Korean group to perform at Coachella — each member reflects on the ups and downs of fame and the long, often challenging journey that brought them to worldwide success. BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY reveals the relatable, unfiltered sides of the foursome, who continue to be a leading force in expanding K-pop’s popularity, proving that music knows no borders or language barriers.
Q&A with BLACKPINK
Host : I’m sure all of you are very busy with your new album out, and now you will be meeting your fans through a documentary. I’m sure this is a new feeling with so many people are waiting to see the documentary. The documentary will be released to over 190 countries globally. How does this feel?
Rose : I think because all of us watch a lot of things on Netflix, it’s such an honor to have our documentary airs on Netflix, and the fact that so many people will be able to see it globally, it is really great and also we are very nervous.
Host : Surprise!!! Tomorrow (14th Oct), your faces can be selected for Netflix’s user profiles and that is amazing news. We have seen characters of La CASA de Papel, Orange is The New Black, Stranger Things, this means you are on par with them. Lisa, how does it feel?
Lisa : I can’t believe it and I love it! I really want to change my icon right now.
Host : BLACKPINK has never really shared their offstage footage to the public, so I think that what makes BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY more special. What makes you agree to film this documentary?
Jennie : We always think of ways to go closer to the fans and public. When we worked with Director Suh, we thought that we found the right person, so there was no reason to hesitate. We are really looking forward to the release of the documentary, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
Host : Netflix has been known for creating a documentary for artists like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and for the first time in K-pop, they chose BLACKPINK for their documentary. What’s that feels like?
Jisoo : First, it is an honor to be in line with the global female artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. The four of us have come a long way. We will continue to work hard to show more of us to our fans.
Host : I was told that in the documentary, there are footages of you when you were auditioning for YG Entertainment, the grueling training process and all the way to your international success today. What kind of story that you want to tell by sharing your career trajectory?
Jennie : So, we were able to go back to time that we even forgot ourselves and that brought back a lot of memories. Since our training period, to the debut, until today. We wanted to show all the hard work manifested on the glamorous days of BLACKPINK well also sharing the authentic, the more original moments off-stage that we didn’t really get to share with the fans before. I hope that the BLINKS are also looking forward to the documentary of our stories.
Host : You were also the first Korean girl group to perform at Coachella. You also went through your first world tour. I heard we can see more behind the scenes footages of these events?
BP : I’m sure a lot of our fans already saw our performances at Coachella, but the documentary should also show some new footages that weren’t shared before. Some of the episodes, behind the scenes of Coachella and I’m glad that all of that are included in the film.
Host : Music knows no borders and there is no language barrier in music. I heard that there is no language barrier in the documentary film. You speak in Korean, English and Thai. You are able to really share all of your genuine aspects. I watched the trailer and I saw some of you crying. I heard there were some shedding tears as well.
Rose : All of our members, when we had interview we were able to open up and share some of our genuine thoughts and we were speaking in the language that we were most comfortable with. For myself and Jennie as well, we grew up abroad, so we spoke a lot of English. Jisoo spoke a lot of Korean. Lisa spoke in Thai. So, there’s a lot of languages that are included in the documentary, but I think that it symbolizes a part of BLACKPINK and I think that is an aspect that the fans will like as well. We get really honest and true to ourselves, it’s embarrassing, but I did shed some tears and I hope that the fans will like that part of me.
Host : Such honest and authentic scenes in the documentary, that means you were with the filming crew probably 24/7 and I think this is probably the first time that you were filming up close and personal with the camera and what’s that like?
BP : At first, it was a little bit awkward. We were not really familiar, having camera all around us 24/7 but I think we got more comfortable and later on we were forgetting that there was a camera or filming crew that was shooting us. We start to get more playful and I think that environment was created by Director Caroline Suh. So, I think that was something that I wanted to thank her for.
Host : I would like to quote; “In a way they seem like sisters, they are family basically. I hope the films help humanized them” – this is what the Director Caroline Suh said in her interview. I assume that the four of you must have a special bond with each other. What do you think and did that bond become stronger as you shot this documentary?
Jennie : So, we were together since we were teenagers and now we are in our twenties. We were able to see each other grow and we were able to share all the emotions in the world throughout this journey. Of course we are like family, but even when we are working, we still feel that special bond. We are very comfortable with sharing our opinions with each other. When we were shooting the film, I believed that we were able to bring out some of the playful in a girly aspect of ourselves. I think that made our bond and relationship stronger. I think it got us thinking about the relationship that we will have in the future as well.
Host : In that process, I think as the documentary checks your career, Teddy who is very well known producer in YG Entertainment, who created with you the biggest hit of BLACKPINK is also featured in the documentary? How that came about and what does Teddy means to you?
BP : I think Teddy also knows us individually very well and he listens to what we have to say to each other and he is able to reflect that into the direction of our music. I would believe that Teddy definitely our fifth member.
Host : Now you have become the global success and you have built a lot of friendship with different people and the documentary is able to include this. What was like working with Director Caroline Suh?
BP : Before we started the shoot until we ended the shoot, she makes sure that we were comfortable and we talked a lot to make that comfortable environment. I think that really helps bring out more natural aspects and I would like to thank her for that. I think she’s really cool and I thank her for all of her efforts.
Host : BLACKPINK is a group that well known to not appear that much in variety shows or entertainment shows. So, this documentary was a new challenge for you. How did it feel and were there any difficulties or challenges?
Lisa : When it comes to shooting reality contents, this not our very first, but it is our very first documentary. I don’t think anything was particularly difficult. I think we all just had a lot of fun. Tomorrow, we can’t wait and we are very nervous. I really hope people enjoy seeing it.
Host : Netflix, since very first girl group’s documentary has chosen BLACKPINK. What are some content originals that you enjoyed on Netflix?
BP : Well, at free time we get to watch content on Netflix. Kingdom is one of our favorites. Le CASA de Papel is also another one. We also love Derek, Black Mirror, Stranger Things..I can go on and on. But, that honestly, that’s how much we enjoyed the content on Netflix and I think we always want to work with them when we have a chance. We are very happy and very excited!
Host : What is the motivation that has driven all of you to continue to work for your trainee days until today?
BP : I think all four of us had a very clear purpose that we want to achieve as BLACKPINK. With every moment that we went through together to achieve that, we want to make sure all four of us, none of us became tired of it. I think we are all in this together. Although we all have different styles, different strengths, but I think we learn how to bring that in harmony and communicate with one another to achieve a common goal.
Host : The title ‘LIGHT UP THE SKY’ is very memorable. How is that title come about? And when is your world light up the brightest?
BP : Well, for the title.. when we were all together in the studio, and also Director Caroline was there through the phone. We have a song called ‘How You Like That’, and a part of those lyrics says ‘Light up the sky’. So, when we were asked how does ‘Light up the sky’ sound, we all really love it. We thought that was very fitting and perfect. That was how the title came about.
BP : I would say when the four of us together, our sky is lit up the brightest.. like right now. (Laugh)
Host : Isn’t it amazing to see the fast and rapid success and stardom that BLACKPINK has achieved. What would be the key to your success and achievement in such a short time?
Jisoo : I would say music doesn’t stop at music these days. The visual is important and the audiences listen to music that they would like to take part in it, imitate it as well. I think it changes to something that has numerous different factor in it. In that sense, we always want to bring something new to the audiences and I think our fans appreciate that and that’s why they love us. We are very, very thankful for that. Going forward, we are going to bring out more.
Host : When were you shooting the documentary, what was most memorable?
Rose : Personally, there was this scene where we were looking at our old footages together, the four of us together. Our childhood and trainee clips and that was very fun! We were talking about some of the old episodes, we were teasing each other and I think that was the most memorable scenes.
Jennie : For me, we were working with Director Caroline Suh and there were a lot of interviews. We were talking to each other and before the interview I was really, really nervous but when we started talking, I found myself talking about myself very comfortably about a lot of things.
Jisoo : (Referring to ‘Not bad, but, not good’ scene) I didn’t know that it would become this much talk about when I said that. But, when we were shooting that scene, it was really fun I remember. I haven’t watched the documentary yet, but I know Teddy is also featured in the documentary, so I am really curious to know what he had to say about us.
Lisa : When we were all together, we were watching the video clips of our childhood and I thought that Rose’s childhood was the most impressive. So, I hope that all of fans can have a look at that as well.
Host : This documentary will be very impressive and very memorable as well for a lot of young people today who want to be the second BLACKPINK or for those who want to make it in the K-pop industry. What would you like to say to them?
BP : I think the most important thing is to find what you are truly loved and always have confidence in yourself. Take care of yourself and love yourself.
Q&A with the Director, Caroline Suh
How did you come to direct this documentary? Were you a big K-pop fan before?
Director Caroline Suh : Well, I’m Korean American, so I tend to be supportive of all things Korean [laughs]. My nephew knows everything you can possibly know about K-pop, so I knew a little about K-pop from him, and the team at Netflix had had the vision to make a film about BLACKPINK. At some point in the process, they asked if I was interested, which I was, and brought me on board. After that we had a series of meetings with YG Entertainment, and luckily, it all came together.
Once you were signed on, what were your first impressions once you looked into BLACKPINK and took in more of their music?
Director Caroline Suh : Well, just in general about K-pop: I naively didn’t realize what a huge industry it is, and what a big business it is for Korea, so it was really interesting to learn about the larger context. Then, as I started watching BLACKPINK’s videos, I was blown away by how cutting edge
they are in terms of their incredible production value, from the costumes to the set, and just how well produced all of the music is. Once you start watching, it’s hard to stop.
How long was the research period, and how long did you follow BLACKPINK to film this documentary?
Director Caroline Suh : It was a matter of a few months before we actually started filming, and then we took two trips to Korea. We flew once in the fall of 2019, and then we went back right before coronavirus really took hold in early 2020. We’re so lucky that we were able to go before everything shut down. It was just before people knew what was to come, but as usual, Korea was totally on top of things—they were already doing bioreadings in the hotels when you entered. I had met Teddy [Park] before they agreed to make a film, and I had also gone to see BLACKPINK at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. That concert was my first real experience seeing how devoted the fans were, how enthusiastic they were. It was a huge arena and it was packed with all sorts of different people, and it gave me a real sense of how broad their audience is.
BLACKPINK has to keep projects confidential all the time, and maintain a sense of mystique with the public. How did it feel being in their inner circle? What kind of precautions did you have to take to keep this film a secret?
Director Caroline Suh : Every documentary is always very secret, and we’re always very careful not to share things that you’re shooting with the outside world, so that was pretty much as usual. But then I came to understand how sought-after information is about whatever BLACKPINK does – from their personal lives, to what fashion choices they are making, to the music.
The members are constantly working on songs that aren’t out new songs and deciding what works best.
That was the interesting thing: It’s not like their output represents how much they’re working. I get the impression that they’re constantly in the studio, trying released to the public.
What were they working on during filming?
Director Caroline Suh : When we were there, they were working on what’s being released now, so we got to film them listening to “Sour Candy,” their collaboration with Lady Gaga, before it got released. That was very cool and I love that song!
It was surprising to see that the members got so deep into talking about their trainee program — an incredibly intense “K-pop school” that most stars have to go through for many years before debuting — because K-pop idols often don’t share much about it.
Director Caroline Suh : They were very open about it, which I was very pleasantly surprised by. It was nice that they felt comfortable speaking openly about how intense that experience was. In a way,
that’s really the heart of the film: They entered that process as teenagers and then, through sheer force of will, they made it through. By the time they debuted, they were totally prepared. They talked about how hard it was, but that’s something that each of them had in common in their interviews — they all said, “I’m not going to quit.”
Let’s talk about the individual members, one by one. First up, Jisoo, the eldest member and the only one to be raised in Korea for all of her childhood.
Director Caroline Suh : You know, as she says in the film, she’s the unnie of the group — the oldest — and she definitely takes on that role, looking out for everyone. But what I love is what Teddy said about
her: People think she’s book smart, but she’s very street smart. She’s very, very composed. There’s something about her that is quietly strong. You might underestimate her strength because she’s so gentle, but she really is a powerhouse.
And then there’s Jennie: She’s so fierce as the main rapper in videos and on stage, but she’s really quite different offstage. What other side of Jennie do you think this film will show fans?
Director Caroline Suh : Jennie is super honest and real. She calls things like she sees them, which I was very impressed by. She describes herself as being painfully shy, which a lot of people would be surprised by. And she’s really a perfectionist. All during filming she was very communicative about what we would shoot with them to make sure it was real. And she’s very expressive. I love watching her interviews because there’s no artifice.
And Rosé, the Korean-Australian member, really goes through an arc in this film.
Director Caroline Suh : Rosé is very driven. She’s really trying to grow as an artist, which is intimidating for her, and it’s really fascinating how she pushes herself to do things that are putting herself on the line creatively. One of my favorite parts of the film is when she’s in the recording studio trying to write a song. She kind of forgot that we were there as she was working – it wasn’t for show. Then there’s a moment later when she says she misses being in training surrounded by music all the time, and now she has to stay up all night to find time to experiment. That shows how committed and passionate she is.
Last but very far from least, tell us about Lisa, the youngest member and the true spark plug of the group.
Director Caroline Suh : She just has a great disposition. All of the members have a real appreciation for Lisa — all of them always spoke incredibly glowingly about her. I think she picks up everyone’s spirits, and also they said that during training, she was the best in everything and just born to do it. But that said, she still doesn’t take herself too seriously. She seems very comfortable with herself.
A huge star of this documentary is Teddy Park, YG Entertainment’s top producer and a main mastermind behind most of BLACKPINK’s biggest hits. We don’t normally hear much from him, because he’s such a legend in K-pop — tell us about talking with him.
Director Caroline Suh : There’s a lot of mystery around Teddy, definitely. When I met him at first I found him to be extremely nice and thoughtful but intimidating. He really didn’t want to be in the film; he hates being on camera. At the beginning, he only would agree to do an audio interview. But as time went on, and we kind of got to know each other better, he agreed to do an interview on camera. You know, sometimes what happens
with people who really don’t want to participate — they end up having a lot to say. He is incredibly well spoken, and all the girls talk about him fondly but also as a revered figure, and over time I could understand why. He does have this kind of very old soul. He really is a great friend to them.
When you were filming BLACKPINK, they were laying down the groundwork to really explode in 2020. Did you get a sense that they felt like this period was a big turning point in their careers?
Director Caroline Suh : You know, I kept on posing questions that started with, “Well, now that you’ve made it…”, and all of them said, very sincerely, that they don’t feel that way. They feel like they’re in the middle of it, still. They just want more and more experiences. As Jennie said, she feels like they have more to show everyone. I think a lot of people would feel pressure — like, “we were so successful, we have to top ourselves” — but I really feel like they’re enjoying the ride.
Were there any moments where you really got a visceral feel for how popular they are, or how intensely loyal their fans are?
Director Caroline Suh : They were doing an event at a mall where the first hundred people could get their autograph, and it was amazing. All these fans had gifts for them, and the members had to sign 100 autographs. It just seemed exhausting, but they were so kind to every single fan and all the fans wanted an emotional connection with them. I thought, “Wow, they really have a lot of endurance.” They’re super professional.
What sense did you get about the bond between the members, their whole sisterhood?
Director Caroline Suh : In a way, they seem like sisters — they’re a family, basically. They all talked about the balance of the group. It’s almost like a selfless thing, how they manage their own feelings and emotions and life so that it works with the group. They’re all very conscious about the little ecosystem that they live in. They all want it to be happy and healthy and they all want positive things for each other, and realized that once they joined the band, they were now responsible to other people.
What do you hope viewers of this documentary come away with after watching it?
Director Caroline Suh : It’s kind of a simple story — it’s about young people realizing their dreams through a lot of toil and some heartache, and I think that kind of story is always inspiring, to see people who are totally devoted and pushed through. There’s a lot expected of them as idols, so I hope the film helps humanize them, so people can see them as actual people.