“Having someone criticizing me right into my face and having to keep calm… it is just brutal,” said Jennie, the main rapper of Blackpink, a four-membered Korean girl group, recounting her experiences she went through as junior trainee on a Netflix documentary called “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky.” “The atmosphere wasn’t exactly happy,” the other members also shared their five years of experience as trainees. Unveiled on Netflix on Wednesday, the documentary was instantly ranked second on the streaming site’s global movie category.
Documentaries featuring K-pop idols are enjoying increasing popularity nowadays. “TWICE: Seize the Light,” another docu-movie on the eponymous Korean girl group, was uploaded on YouTube over nine episodes starting April, with the first episode alone achieving a 5-million viewership. BTS’ “Break the Silence: the Movie” garnered an explosive response globally after it was posted on WeVerse, an independent web platform developed by Bit Hit Entertainment, the boy band’s agency.
Those idol-focused documentaries are seizing attention as fans want to know what their stars are like behind the glitzy limelight and flashes of cameras. Experts say the stories about how they spent their childhood, what made them decide to become a star, and what hurdles they had to overcome help resonate with their fans.
Caroline Seo, the director of the Blackpink movie, is working for YG Entertainment or Netflix; she is a freelance director. This enabled her to dive deep into the detailed stories of the four members’ training years instead of degrading her work into a “promotion film,” which wouldn’t have been possible if it had been directed by their agency. “The members also wanted to tell their sincere stories,” said an official from Netflix. “We could tell various stories such as how they lead their life as an artist and what they do in free time as well as their successful career as K-pop singers.”
Others say the over-the-top media (OTT) services such as Netflix or YouTube played a crucial role as gateway for docu-movies which don’t often thrive at theatre. The exposure of documentary movies, which is often limited to fans only, has been boosted by the OTT, making them readily available on the smartphone or TV.