Five must watch K-pop documentaries: From Blackpink and BTS to Nine Muses

With super passionate fans, non-stop training and recording, being a K-pop star is not for the faint hearted

South Korean girl group BLACK PINK attends 2019 Seoul Motor Show, held at KINTEX in Goyang, Korea on March 28, 2019. StarNews / Reuters
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The K-pop world has been painted Blackpink.

Hot on the heels of their debut album, simply titled The Album, the super-star female band has released a Netflix documentary.

Available to stream now, Blackpink: Light Up the Sky covers the journey from the band's formation in 2016 to their explosive performance at 2019's Coachella Festival in the US. As well as the fun and fame that comes with pop-stardom, director Caroline Suh also shows the emotional and physical strain that comes with the territory.

The program is part of a growing body of documentaries tracing the rise and effect of K-pop not only on popular culture, but on the stars themselves.

Here are four more documentaries available to watch on YouTube, lifting the lid on the colourful and passionate world of K-pop. In some case, non-Korean speakers will need to remember to press the closed captions button for English subtitles.

1. 'Burn the Stage' (2017)

Take note: there are two versions of the YouTube documentary about boyband BTS. The first is an eight part series, while the other is a condensed 85-minute documentary. If you are a hard core fan, then the series is your best bet. With each episode running at roughly 30 minutes, it is an in-depth look at how seven piece group grapple with global fandom.

The series shows the way the band balances work and play. Watch as they go from high octane shows in stadiums full of shrieking fans, to joking around with bandmates and barbecues at home.

2. 'The Nine Muses of Star Empire' (2013)

Practice makes perfect. And when it comes to the hyper competitive world of K-pop, there is no substitute for perfection. This is a revealing and sometimes harrowing look at the industry through the eyes of former K-pop super group Nine Muses. Comprised of nine models, actors and singers, we follow their progress as record label Star Empire pushes them to the limits to reach the pop summit.

Mixing observational footage of their rigorous training and recording sessions with interviews with band members and managers, Hark-Joon Lee’s documentary not only shows the efforts needed to become a K-pop star but makes us wonder if it is worth it.

3. 'Superfans, Global K-pop' (2018)

While it maybe catered towards a domestic audience, this solid 70-minute feature by South Korean broadcaster KBS World is a handy explainer on how K-pop reached international popularity.

What makes the program rewarding is how it charts the genre's rise through the eyes of fans. There is some great footage from the eighth K-Pop World Festival, an international gathering of K-pop lovers full of singing and dancing competitions.

4. 'Global Youth, Dreaming of K-pop' (2015)

Another intimate look at the international love for K-pop by KBS World.

The one hour feature follows participants from 14 international teams as they compete in the final rounds of the 2015 K-Pop World Festival, held in the South Korean city of Changwon. From mastering the moves to nailing the signature pouty looks, this is fandom taken to the next level.