171013 gqjapan blackpink

A New Generation of KPOP

From the year 2010 onward, K-POP, Korea’s brand of pop music, has inundated Japan and taken it by storm. Equipped with high quality songs and dances, exceptional visuals, and well-polished MVs, it’s quickly captured the hearts of even the Japanese.

And now, those responsible for K-POP’s new generation are on the rise. One such group representative of this new era is a 4-member girl group, the first to debut in 7 years from the same YG ENTERTAINMENT that brought BIGBANG and “Gangnam Style”‘s PSY — BLACKPINK.


Since releasing their debut MV in 2016, they’ve exceeded 1 billion views in their YouTube account, and have showcased their charms to the world through their video channel and SNS. They have 5.9M followers on Instagram! (T/N: 6M now) They’ve hit #1 on iTunes in 18 countries, as well as #1 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. Their popularity isn’t limited to Asia.

BLACKPINK has also gained traction in Japan. Over 200,000 people tried for a seat at their debut showcase in July 20, held at the Tokyo Budokan that seats 14,000 people. Their powerful and enchanting performance quickly became a hot issue, and their debut mini album “BLACKPINK” released on August 30 hit number one on Oricon and other music charts.


Pre-debut Challenges

“Our training period was a continuous cycle of repeatedly practicing our assigned songs and receiving the harsh evaluations with composure. Because of those experiences, we’re able to not be as nervous no matter how big the stage may be.”

The catlike, wide-eyed Jennie remarked as such. She is a rapper and a vocal. The vocal Rosé continued, “As a trainee, mistakes can be said to be a process of growth, but being a pro comes hand in hand with responsibility. Many fans have also said they want to imitate our performances so we can’t lose focus.”

In Korea, trainees who pass auditions for entertainment companies are subjected to strict training for as much as 5-10 years. Singing and dancing are a given, and as prerequisites for breaking into the foreign market, foreign languages such as Japanese and English are also diligently studied. They compete to win against rivals on the road to a debut. In contrast to Japanese idols’ frequent debuts and that is when they start their growth, Korean idols are already “complete works” once they debut.



BLACKPINK may seem perfect on stage, but as expected, their true personalities are revealed off of it. They offered a peek into their true selves through their variety show appearances. In addition, they enthusiastically do live broadcasts through the internet, unsparingly showcasing off-stage personalities that are unlike other conventional idols. The typical 20-22 year old cute girls is in them.

“The name BLACKPINK means that we have both the specialty of ‘BLACK’ and the cuteness of ‘PINK’. We want to let you see our own selves not just when we’re performing, so we’re taking on various challenges off-stage too.” says Jisoo. She might be the most “innocent” among the members.

On the other hand, the lively rapper Lisa shares, “At first, we were embarrassed about showcasing our normal selves, but now, we’ve come to think that the gap between our on-stage and off-stage personalities is interesting.”


BLACKPINK’s live broadcasts occasionally use a mix of Korea and English, much to the delight of fans worldwide. Rosé, who comes from Australia, and Lisa, who comes from Thailand, both speak foreign languages aside from Japanese.

The scale of the Korean music market is said to be 1/30th of that of Japan’s. The small size thus makes it a compelling necessity for Korean entertainment companies to compete to enter the foreign market. As such, not only are albums and songs sold worldwide, but concert tours in foreign countries are also held actively and regularly.

What sets Japan apart from other countries is that the inability to speak Japanese will pose a large hindrance. K-POP artists who want to break into and succeed in Japan must first master the Japanese language. BLACKPINK is no exception; they started studying Japanese as soon as they became trainees.

“The Japanese word I learned today is ‘あぶらっぽい’ (‘abura-ppoi ‘= oily) (laughs). We love ‘abura-soba’. When we get to Japan, we’ll eat it all the time.”

When Jisoo, the member who’s best at Japanese said so, all the members laughed.

Fluent in Korean, English, Thai, and Japanese, BLACKPINK may end up being the ones who will expand the frontiers of Asian brand of world music.



YG ENTERTAINMENT’s first-ever foreign singer. She establishes her presence through her powerful dance moves and her long arms and legs. She was a trainee for 5 years.

“She’s a person who’s capable of always making those around her have fun. She’s excellent at dancing and she helps me practice. Thanks to Lisa, I’ve also come to be able to enjoy dancing.” (Rosé)



She is at the top of her class at being classic beauty while possessing all the good qualities of being cute. Prior to her debut, she had appeared in several commercials as well as in MVs of other YG artists. She was a trainee for about 4 years.

“Seemingly pure, innocent and feminine, but her personality is light and invigorating. She’s amiable and is always willing to start up a conversation. A genuinely good person.” (Jennie)



Having experienced studying abroad in New Zealand, Jennie is proficient in English. The strength of her character lies hidden in the depths of her mischievous eyes. In 2012, she garnered attention for her appearance in the MV for G-DRAGON’s “That XX”. She was a trainee for 6 years.

“Sexiness that co-exists with a cute face. She’s capable of showing many sides on one stage. A girl with inexhaustible charms.” (Jisoo)



Hailing from Australia, Rosé is skilled at English. Her guitar playing enchantingly complements her beautiful voice. She was a trainee for 4 years.

“I’ll never forget the image of Rosé coming from abroad with a guitar on her shoulder. I had never seen a trainee like her before; she was so cool. She’s a prodigy, but she works hard nonetheless.” (Lisa)

Translations by @black2dpink824
Scans by @_youimma

[IG] Behind photos & video of BLACKPINK for GQ Japan December 2017 Issue

[IG] Official photos of BLACKPINK for GQ Japan December 2017 Issue

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