Four years into their electrifying careers, BLACKPINK have become a force that has taken the world by storm.

In fact, they’ve gone so big internationally that Netflix decided to make a documentary focused around members Jennie, Lisa, Rosé and Jisoo and their rise to superstardom.

But “BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky” isn’t just about a successful K-pop girl group’s gold and glitter. In a press conference held prior to the documentary’s release, director Caroline Suh said her goal was to “humanize” BLACKPINK.

The docu starts with BLACKPINK’s pre-debut introduction. We need the K-pop dictionary for this one: a K-pop debut is when a trainee or a group of trainees are unveiled as an idol or an idol group with a record release. BLACKPINK’s debut was basically when Lalisa Manoban became Lisa, Jennie Kim became Jennie, Park Chae-young became Rosé and Kim Jisoo became Jisoo.

There’s a heap of behind-the-scenes footage, including demo recordings, pre-debut performances and childhood videos which accompany each member’s introduction in the docu. The members, who hail from Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Korea, talked about the tough decision they had to make before signing up as trainees. Suh’s emphasis on individuality in the film made it hit home.

Among the extremes K-pop idol wannabes have to go through is the rigorous, strict and exploitative trainee system. Rosé revealed she had to drop out of school to fly back to Korea, away from her family in Australia, to train under YG Entertainment. In another shape or form, the same sacrifices were made by the other three members. But the struggle didn’t end there. Jennie said she had to withstand six years of being told she wasn’t good enough. Rose talked about being homesick on multiple occasions. Lisa and Jisoo had to live up to the pressure. The girls trained 14 hours a day and had to cope with having co-trainees ejected as if they were living in a real-life Survivor series.

Despite these, Jennie trained for six years, Lisa and Jisoo trained for five and Rosé trained for four. Each member talked about the demerits of the path toward global fame in the film. Jennie lamented about not experiencing high-school life. “A lot of people make lots of memories as a high school student,” she said. “But I never had that.” Rosé bared suffering from anxiety of being not good enough to write her own music despite the group’s success. These moments provided a deeper look into the life of the world-famous K-pop idols. While a case study can be made on entertainment companies commercializing teenagers’ talents at such young ages, the rough road to stardom goes through there.

Atrocious challenges like these shown in the film reveal the tough lives of the global superstars and proved BLACKPINK didn’t only rise to fame because YG Entertainment crowned them as 2NE1’s successors. Instead, they demonstrated how each member had to work tails off to reach the heights they’ve reached. The industry is brutal, commercialistic and fast-paced but the docu brought an honest perspective and meaning to K-pop.

Four years into their debut, BLACKPINK have etched themselves in history with three music videos with one billion views on YouTube, a headlining performance at Coachella and multiple Guinness World Records.

“Every group has its own cultural background that makes them who they are but this combination… it’s what makes Blackpink unique,” YG hitmaker Teddy Park says.

This October, BLACKPINK released “THE ALBUM,” the group’s full-length debut album. The album catapulted BLACKPINK to become the first female K-pop group to lead the Billboard Artist 100 chart.

The members admitted being overwhelmed by fame at times. “The thing is, you can never tell how long this will last,” Rosé said, talking about superstardom’s potentially fleeting nature. Then again, nothing is permanent. For now, BLACKPINK is in your area, and they’re here to stay. John Ezekiel J. Hirro

Watch the documentary here.