Blackpink’s Jennie Kim: The Journey of a Superstar

“Blackpink in your area! A cover of ELLE with Jennie Kim, one of the four iconic singer-rapper-dancers of Blackpink, the most famous girl group in K-pop in the world, deserves this battle cry that we hear at the opening of some of their videos, which has become a rallying sign for their fans. Nicknamed “Human Chanel” when she started out, for her spontaneous attachment to the house on rue Cambon, the 27-year-old young woman, with decent long hair and classic elegance, has since become an ambassador for the Coco jewelry collection. Crush with the iconic quilted design, poses with amazing ease and professionalism. “Since I was little, she says, I have been captivated by music and fashion. And I always wanted to share my passion with the whole world. »

Blackpink? The South Korean girl band celebrated its seventh anniversary on August 8. Seven years of uninterrupted success, seven years of hard work, seven years of reflection? A bit of all three. Their planetary success, made up of colossal figures and broken records, seems, with hindsight, comparable to that of the film “Barbie”, by Greta Gerwig. Like the feature film’s army of dolls, Jisoo, Lisa, Rosé and Jennie, whose hair color or lenses change faster than lightning, get the vibe. In their videos, they also show themselves as fashion plates and sassy warriors. A girl power in pink and black (their favorite and contradictory colors) that has become a pop phenomenon. A cultural tidal wave that the most famous American pop stars have come to rub shoulders with: Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Cardi B, Selena Gomez… The most streamed female group on Spotify (more than 8 billion listens) even conquered the very trendy Coachella festival – they were the first South Korean stars to be invited there, in 2019. And aroused the admiration of Drake and Harry Styles, who are fans.

planetary phenomenon

A strategic way also, for South Korea, to place itself at the center of the music industry. “K-pop was born in the 1990s, well after the Korean War, to get out of the financial crisis, explains Hedia Charni, host on MTV and pop specialist. Officially, it was the enormous success of the film “Jurassic Park”, which had generated more money when it was released than the giant Hyundai, which gave the idea to the South Korean government to invest in the cultural industry. In his big-budget clips, with bigger-than-life sets (like this giant bear trap on which the four girls dance in “Kill This Love”), hectic choreography and desirable costumes, Blackpink delivers ultra-efficient rap that doesn’t don’t let it count.

The girls have afforded the luxury of turning the fashion world upside down

Self-assertion, haro on toxic masculinity, distrust of conventional love: through their texts delivered in Korean and English, the girls convey feminist messages that are well in tune with the times. “I look cute but I’m not,” says Jennie in “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” one of their first singles, the music video for which has surpassed 2 billion views on YouTube. “My value is priceless / I don’t even have a prince on my list / Love is a drug that I gave up”, she also raps in “Lovesick Girls”. A well-oiled war machine, the K-tuor was instantly iconic. Because formatted to play the Asian Spice Girls, the girls turned out to be a clever mix of Britney Spears, MIA and Cardi B. Despite overloaded schedules (after their first Stade de France, on July 15, the group finished her Born Pink World Tour, named after their second album) and various solo projects, the girls have afforded the luxury of turning the fashion world upside down. Because each of their appearances at the parades provokes a massive influx of young fans (officially baptized Blinks, a portmanteau word composed of “black” and “pink”) from all social backgrounds.

Jennie Kim © Camilla Akrans

A phenomenon compared, by its magnitude, to the crowds displaced in the past by Elvis or the Beatles, and which has not escaped the luxury brands. Jennie thus won the title of Chanel ambassador. “A teenage dream,” she admits. I’m especially honored to be the face of the new Coco Crush campaign and as excited as the time I was told the news. Born on January 16, 1996 in Seoul, the young woman, known for her shyness off the stage, left to live at the age of 9 in a host family in New Zealand, in Auckland, to study English. “A very special time that made me become who I am today, she reveals to us. Neither the country nor the culture was familiar to me and I had to struggle to adapt. »

So we trained every day to reach our goal

There, she hears about YG Entertainment for the first time and manages to convince her family, who sees her studying law instead, to return to South Korea to audition with the record company. She went there in 2010, when she was 14 years old. She will be the first member of the group to sign with the label as a “trainee” and then integrates an ad hoc training. The documentary “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky”, broadcast on Netflix, revealed behind the scenes of this extraordinary training, typical of the K-pop industry. For several years, the four girls learned to dance, sing, record in the studio, to do their hair and make up, up to fourteen hours a day: a real priesthood. Jennie Kim, ultra-combative, still remembers: “All those years were intense and very rigorous. But each moment was so unique! The girls and I shared the same dreams, so we trained every day to achieve our goal. »

Strength and perseverance

Jennie Kim © Camilla Akrans

It was during these years of almost military apprenticeship and forced solitude that their unfailing complicity was created. “We supported each other in everything we did, she recalls, and it was a real source of strength and energy for me. Today, like the other three, Jennie Kim, who first appeared at the Met Gala last May in a vintage 1990 Chanel mini dress, is enjoying Blackpink’s skyrocketing popularity: her Instagram account, @jennierubyjane, thus displays 80.9 million subscribers, with a record engagement rate (the ratio between the number of likes per publication and the number of followers): 7% (it would be 0.52% for Kim Kardashian).

At the head of an army of fans, she can pride herself on selling out almost overnight every piece she wears for an advertisement or in a magazine. A force that also made the success of his first solo single, “Solo”, the clip of which earned him several awards and the title of the first Korean solo artist to exceed 300 million views on YouTube six months after its release. The Blinks also rushed to “The Idol”, the provocative series by Sam Levinson and The Weeknd, with Lily-Rose Depp, where Jennie took her first steps as an actress and her first visit to the Cannes Film Festival.

“A very exciting experience,” she enthuses, though she swears she doesn’t have a series or movie planned yet. Another project, more intimate this one, has already caused millions of comments on the networks: his “romantic relationship” with V, one of the singers of the male group of K-pop BTS, confirmed by their two respective managers. We will not know more: for Jennie Kim, that day, priority to Blackpink.

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