How to Meditate Like a Pro

wp-image-692359758jpg.jpgBuddhism is cool. That is not only my personal opinion, it can also be observed in Western popular culture, where Buddhist ideas are being commercialized and transformed into products such as mandala coloring books, Buddha bowls, Zen soap and so on. Mindfulness, yoga and numerous forms of meditation, allegedly based on Buddhist practice, have become immensely popular as antidotes to our stressful lives. Yet, we must wonder, in what sense is this ‘mutant’ practice still Buddhist, regardless of the benefits it may have?

While I have critically written about the Western interpretation of Buddhism on this blog (on ‘Zen’, for example), meditation is something I was not familiar with until recently. During my summer school at UC Berkeley where I studied Tibetan Buddhism, I read ancient texts describing a series of very complex tantric meditation exercises you (or rather: a trained Buddhist) should do in order to reach enlightenment. And, let me warn you, it’s not easy.

When I decided to start meditating myself on a daily basis a month ago, it was impossible not to notice the enormous difference between what I had read and what those YouTube videos told me to do. Meditation nowadays is advertised as something everyone can do everywhere, for 5 minutes or for an hour, and of which the underlying idea is emptying your mind. Apart from the fact that I still struggle with not thinking (I also fell asleep once during a 30-minutes guided session), I was slightly disappointed that it did not involve the visualization of buddhas, bodhisattvas and deities, of royal palaces and Buddha’s life, as I had seen in class. So, when I noticed that there was an exhibition on the topic at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), I took the train to Antwerp and visited “Buddha & Mind” on a grey Wednesday afternoon. A heads up for my loyal readers: this post and the exhibition are not about Japan, although Tantric Buddhism plays an important role in Japanese religion, and the buddha the meditation is dedicated to, Vairocana, is of crucial importance in Shingon Buddhism.

The museum framed its choice for this topic as following: “In our hectic lives we seek peace and tranquillity more intensely than ever. Growing numbers of us are taking up yoga and meditation to prevent stress. In the East, people have been using these methods for centuries, and above all to attain a greater sense of reality. You too will be immersed in meditation with this unique series of Buddhist miniature paintings”. Overall, I thought the main pieces of the collection, 54 Chinese paintings from the 18th century, illustrating the Buddhist meditation process, were impressive and neatly explained in the provided catalogue (online available here). They were a gift to a Mongolian prince, who used them as a meditation guide: this exercise is a ritual performed after someone’s death. The paintings are not only of rare quality, the fact that they exist is exceptional in itself: Tantric meditation techniques are secret (esoteric) and usually not depicted. They are also unique as multicultural artworks: the inspiration and content is Tibetan, yet the painting style is Chinese and the cultural background is Mongolian. The paintings were brought here by a Belgian missionary.

In Buddhism, there are three vehicles, or ways to reach enlightenment: the great vehicle (Mahayana), the smaller vehicle (Hinayana or Theravada) and the diamond or thunderbolt vehicle (Vajrayana), the main Buddhist current in Tibet. The paintings depicted below belong to the latter. The whole visualization revolves around Vairocana, the dharmakaya or “truth body”, a manifestation of the historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. In Vajrayana, Vairocana is the most important Buddha. Similar to Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhists’ goal is to become a bodhisattva, an enlightened being that benevolently helps other people in the world (and eventually, to become a buddha).  Vajrayana is more or less the ‘hardcore’ way to attain buddhahood: since we already have a potential Buddha-nature from birth, it is possible to get there in one lifetime, this life. Why wait longer? Mahayana, on the other hand, takes it easy and helps you getting there over several rebirths. In short, the Diamond way is, literally, for the diehards. The exercise explained below, is proof of that. If you’re interested in some more ‘extreme’ tantric practices, check out my blog post on the Japanese tachikawa-ryu! Now, I will guide you through every phase of the meditation exercise by means of some snapshots I took at the exhibition.

1. Preparing your meditation

20170222_194001.jpgThe first step for success – not only in attaining nirvana – is a good preparation. First, you pay your respect to the three jewels (the Buddha, his teachings and the Buddhist community) and ask your teacher to be initiated. Then, as is illustrated on the painting on the left, you use the ritual objects that lie in front of you to purify yourself, while making gestures with your hands (mudras) and reciting mantras. The three clouds depicted here, symbolize whose guidance you are calling upon: the bodhisattva Vajrasattva (the “diamond being”), Buddha and your teacher.

20170222_194052.jpgNow it’s time for a first visualization: one of a huge moon disk that symbolizes ‘truth’, or dharma (visible behind the mountain and streams depicted). Imagine that the light of this moon is absorbed in a large lotus, which produces a vajra (“thunderbolt weapon”) and another, smaller lotus in its turn. Inside the vajra, the seed syllable Hum हूं is written. The “thunderbolt weapon” also emits colorful rays of light. Starting from these elements, you start your meditation. The moon disk now represents emptiness (sunyata), a very important concept in Buddhism. The rainbow light, now imagined as circling in a mandala shape, symbolizes Vairocana. Not depicted here are a mantra and white palace steps, the former indicating bodhisattva Vajrasattva and the latter referring to a later visualization of Vairocana’s palace, or the cosmos.

Further visualized against the backdrop of the moon disk are the five Meditation or Wisdom Buddha’s, each of them with their attributed color and female counterpart: of course we have Vairocana as the dharma (in white), Aksobhya for reflection (blue), Ratnasambhava for equanimity (yellow), Amitabha for perception (red) and Amoghasiddhi for perfect practice (green). After this, Vairocana becomes again the main object of your meditation, but now as a four-headed Buddha. Last but not least, you should bring several offerings. Are you still following? Yes? Good, because we haven’t even started yet.

2. Building the palace

Step two involves the mental construction of a mandala, symbolizing Vairocana’s palace (this was announced earlier by the white palace steps). First, you think again of a large, blue lotus with the seed syllable hum written on it. Feel the lotus entering your body and transforming you in the blue and angry Trailokyavijaya, the “King of Knowledge”. Trailokyavijaya is born from hum and has eight arms and four faces. With these extra limbs, he is able to carry around many weapons, adornments and other objects. By identifying yourself with the wrathful king, you grow as mentally and physically strong as him.


Next up is a series of mantras and mudras. Pronounce the sixteen syllables here depicted in two circles around two seed syllables: hum and ah आः. By doing so, you will start visualizing the palace of Vairocana. The mudras will result in manifestations of the five  Meditation Buddhas in their respective colors. Their consorts are missing (you should replace them with eight goddesses), but they have their own symbols (jewel, vajra,  wheel, lotus etc.) with them. At the same time, you visualize  room by room the construction of the palace in which they live. Now you have laid the fundamentals for the main visualization.

3. Becoming Vairocana

20170222_194304.jpgFor this visualization, you imagine yourself sitting on a lotus in the middle of the ocean, a standard metaphor for the cycle of suffering, or samsara. Vairocana appears again in a cloud above your head, and you start honoring him by reciting the mantra “oṃ vairocana hūṃ”. The instruments here displayed are of Chinese and Tibetan origin and emphasize the musicality of your mantra. As the sound of your mental voice grows stronger and stronger, the whole world is filled with “oṃ vairocana hūṃ” and resonates in your mind, producing a partial visualization of the white palace. Again, you imagine yourself as Vairocana and take on his outer appearance, richly decorated with jewelry. Now, you reflect on Buddha’s teachings and the nature of your existence. In Buddhist doctrine, our existence is marked by impermanence, suffering and non-self.

20170222_194401.jpgConsequently, you contemplate on the three ‘poisons’ that hinder you in achieving nirvana and result in continuous reincarnation. These are ignorance, aversion and greed. Another obstacle to enlightenment is bad karma: you can improve your karma by meditating on the image of the angry god Trailokyavijaya we encountered earlier. In the circle depicted here on the left, you can read his mantra. At te same time, you finish the first construction phase Vairocana’s palace, the outer circle of the mandala. The cotton candy-colored clouds with pictures of vajra and the palace are proof of that. But your palace is not yet safe: demons and other foul creatures try to distract you in your meditation. Get rid of them by imagining the protective god Vajrapani.

20170222_194453.jpgNow we go back to our five Wisdom Buddhas and their female consorts. While forming mudras, imagine them in yab-yum position, or sexual union. This symbolizes the unity of wisdom and compassion. You start radiating the strength of unity as rainbow-colored rays of light all around you, thus creating a protective barrier, enclosed with vajra, around the mind palace. First, you build a pavilion like the one here depicted on the palace terrain. From your hands emerge two rays of light, symbolizing the two epistemological truths: the conventional  or relative way, and the ultimate truth.

A20170222_194532.jpgt last, the palace is finished. It is an enormous building with many rooms and pavilions. You, imagined as the four-headed Buddha Vairocana, are situated in the middle, or the core of the mandala. You are sitting on a lotus, just like Vajrasattva at his right side and his female partner at his left side. Over the palace hangs the moon, symbol of the ultimate truth of emptiness. You continue emitting light and reciting mantras, reaching beyond this world to the hell realm. By doing so, you save those that are doomed to continue living.

4. Contemplating Buddha’s life

olivelle buddhacarita bookThe next step is visualizing the life of the historical Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. Buddha’s life is relayed in terms of ‘twelve acts’: 1. descending from the heaven Tushita 2. entering the womb 3. being born 4. training in the arts and sciences 5. enjoying life at the palace 6. becoming a monk 7. practicing asceticism 8. sitting under the bodhi tree 9. defeating Mara 10. attaining full enlightenment 11. turning the Dharma wheel 12. dying. Unfortunately, not all stages were depicted; I put the acts shown in the paintings, in bold.

So this is how the story goes: Siddhartha’s mother, queen Maya, dreams of a white elephant entering her womb. Depending on the Buddhist current to which you belong, the future Buddha is seated on this elephant (e.g. in the Chinese tradition), or the elephant enters Maya’s body (in the Tibetan tradition or like written down in biographies such as the Buddhacarita). This predicts the extraordinary birth of Siddhartha some 10 months later. He is born from the right side of his mother, and immediately starts walking and talking. Growing up, he quickly masters all there is to learn. Unfortunately, his pampered life at the palace leads to luxurious excesses and sensual adventures with many consorts.

One day, he takes a tour around the city and is confronted with ‘the four sights’: he sees an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a monk. Being shielded from such sights at the palace, he suddenly realizes that life is full of suffering. Inspired by the monk, he renounces his worldly life, flees the palace and takes up monkshood. For six years, he lives in extreme asceticism under guidance of Brahmic teachers and later together with five companions. Nevertheless, Siddhartha feels like he has not yet found exactly what he was looking for. He starts doing things differently: for example, he now sufficiently nourishes himself to gain full strength, which was frowned upon by his companions.


Eventually, he sits under a tree and starts to meditate alone, vowing that he will not stop until he has reached enlightenment. He goes through four stages of meditating, gains the three ‘knowledges’ and realizes the four ‘noble truths’ – that all is suffering, the cause of this suffering, the fact that it can be ceased and the way that leads to its cessation. An evil being, Mara, ‘the bringer of death’, is not happy with Siddhartha’s succesful attempt and tries to boycott his meditation. He sends an army, his daughters and a storm, but all in vain. Siddhartha is immovable and defeats Mara in a heartbeat. At the same time, he attains full enlightenment.

20170222_194710.jpgAs a Buddha (including the external features such as long ear lobes and a lump on the head), he now returns to his old friends and teaches them and many others the Dharma, and they became enlightened as well (this is called ‘the turning of the wheel of Dharma‘). He performs a couple of miracles and converts many people to this new religion. On the left, you see Buddha seated in the middle on a lotus, surrounded by his disciples, bodhisattvas and gods. He teaches them the dharma, symbolized by the books in the rays of light here depicted. The moon represents again the ultimate truth of emptiness, and the teacher is important for the guidance of meditation. Once a disciple attains nirvana, he becomes an arhat (buddhahood is very rare and there can only be one buddha at the same time). Being enlightened entails that you will no longer reincarnate. Dying, then, is  a different experience. The Buddha falls sick at the age of 81 and reaches parinirvana: he dies ‘beyond nirvana’, the end of all suffering.

5. Becoming Vajrasattva

20170222_194819.jpgAfter this spectacular life story of the historical Buddha, we are ready to move onto another deity visualization. This time, you identify as Vajrasattva (remember him?). This bodhisattva will help you realize enlightenment. First, you carry out purification rituals and have Vajrasattva appear by reciting his mantra. While identifying yourself with him, again call upon the Five Wisdom Buddhas. Their symbolic objects are depicted here as a wheel, a vajra, a jewel, a lotus and a double vajra. This time, Vairocana is visualized not as yourself, but as seated in front of you. You can invite him and the other Buddhas residing in the mandala palace by means of a rainbow light containing the seed syllables, a golden vajra and special mudras and mantras. Continue meditating on the Buddhas, their syllables, objects and counterparts (this time, visualize male counterparts). Then, focus on Vairocana, being illuminated beyond the realms, hence freeing all beings from reincarnation.

6. Performing a death ritual

This last part is specifically meant for purifying the bad karma of the deceased. You visualize being seated at the southern entrance of the mandala palace. Again, Vajrasattva emerges from the syllable hum, embedded in a blue lotus on a golden vajra. If you do it right, the other deities will help you with the purification by sending their blessings in a ray of light. Now, you start the ritual by reciting mantras while holding a vajra and a bell, and offering valuable objects such as jewels and vases. The five Wisdom Buddhas will reemerge. Don’t forget to call upon wrathful, armed deities: they will smooth the path of the deceased towards a good reincarnation. It is also a good idea to express your appreciation towards the Buddhas, deities and other helpful creatures. Continue the ritual by reciting Vairocana and Vajrasattva’s mantra for a long time. If you succeed in all of this, the deceased will be purified from the bad karma that has been building up throughout his or her life.

20170222_194909.jpgIt’s highly unlikely that you will perform this meditation perfectly if you’re not a true pro. No problem! There’s a way to be pardoned for your rookie mistakes. Simply keep reciting Vajrasattva’s mantra, written here in full. Once you have provided the deceased with a good future existence, you can broaden your scope to all living beings. Visualize them as being freed from hell by the benevolent Vairocana, or even from reincarnation in general. At last, it is time to party (in your mind): the death ritual is concluded by a grand Thanksgiving feast, complete with music and offerings.

Our meditation exercise is finished, you can open your eyes now. Do you feel enlightened yet? As expected, ‘traditional’ meditation exercises, especially the vajrayana ones, are extremely complicated and not at all comparable to the popular meditation sessions of today. Of course, the goal is different too: if you’re just looking to relax a little, then there’s no need to go for full enlightenment. As a final note: aren’t these temple altar and the sand mandala stunning?




Gyōza, Jiaozi and Mandu

Schermafbeelding 2014-07-15 om 15.23.09Japanese food, except for sushi places (that are often not really Japanese) and one or two top class restaurants, is rarely being served in Belgium. A pity, because the Japanese cuisine is very rich and healthy. The basic component of a Japanese meal is a bowl of rice, served with side dishes like vegetables and fish. Meat only became common after the modernisation in 1868. 

For present-day Japanese, rice, soy sauce and fresh seafood are the ultimate symbols of ‘Japaneseness’, symbols more powerful than the cherry blossom or the national flag in that they satisfy visceral cravings.

Today, many non-traditional dishes are on the daily menu. Some of these popular dishes aren’t even Japanese, but imported and adapted to the Japanese taste. I’m talking about curry rice (recipe in this previous post), ramen and nikuman (or butaman in Kansai) etc. Among these, gyōza is one of my favorites. Gyōza are dough dumplings, usually filled with cabbage and minced pork, optionally in combination with sesame oil and garlic. The dumplings are steamed, boiled or fried and often served as a side dish. Gyōza are usually eaten dipped in soy sauce. gyoza-japaneseThe word gyōza 餃子 was derived from the pronunciation of the same word in Chinese Shandong dialect, jiaozi. After all, it is originally a Chinese dish. The difference between the Chinese and Japanese snack is that jiaozi have more variety in fillings, strong-flavored seasoning and thicker dumpling wrappers than gyōza. The Chinese dish became popular in Japan after the invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

More than a million Japanese who resided in Korea, Taiwan, Manchuria and other Chinese territories under Japan’s domination, not to mention hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought on the continent, acquired a taste for foreign food and played a critical role in its popularization in post-war Japan. (…) Returnees from Manchuria found themselves jobless in the midst of devastation and food shortages, and many embarked in the making and selling of gyōza to their hungry customers.

In Korea as well, dumplings (mandu 만두 in Korean) are pretty popular. The filling is mostly the same as Japanese gyōza, although Korean people tend to serve it in combination with kimchi or, like in this picture, as a side dish with rice cakes (tteok ) and vegetables. 


– Cwiertka, Katarzyna Joanna. Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity, 2006.

– S. for teaching me how to make gyōza and L.B.R. for preparing those delicious Korean dishes, thank you!

South Korean Boy Bands – Part One

Divided over three successive posts, I will give you some information about Kpop (Korean popular music), more specifically about the rise, success and representation of boy bands. Because of my interest in Far East Asian culture, I am fully aware of the fact that my view has already undergone some influence. At the same time, I am a fan of classical music and hardly listen to any pop music. Nevertheless, I will try to sketch an as objective as possible portrait of this music style. The first post contains a general introduction and sketches the historical background of this genre.


A boy band is defined as “a vocal group consisting of young male singers”, what immediately points out their function on stage as well: singing. They do not (or rarely) write their own music or perform by playing instruments. Their performances, on the other hand, are often accompanied by choreographic dance.

Beyond Backstreet Boys

Boy bands have evolved from barbershop quartets over The Jackson 5 towards New Kids On The Block. In the 90s, managers in Europe were inspired by these American phenomena and created boys bands like Take That. The usual number of members was four or five.

Although the highlights of the genre were long gone by then, “new” boy bands formed in the 21st century. And here, South Korea comes into sight. Before being dominated by the American market, the popularity of boy bands shifted towards the East. A Taiwanese boy band called F4 gained popularity all over East Asia.

The members of F4 had their own solo projects and an acting career. Their international success was due to the TV drama Meteor Garden, in which all four  of them performed. Meteor Garden is the Taiwanese adaptation of Japanese manga & drama Hana Yori Dango (got it where F4 comes from?). They had to change their name into JVKV because of copy-right issues with Japan, though.

Although still different from Korean pop idols, a change in representation is noticeable. F4 emits the “radiant light” of four pretty sweet flower boys, sensible and well-mannered. They seem to care a big deal about their long, shiny hair, white teeth and clean-shaven chins, and smile heart-warmingly at the female audience. This, in my opinion, is the East Asian perception of masculinity, a different, but equal approach as the one American boy bands promote. More about this will be discussed in the second part.

In 2001, the Japanese boy band EXILE with 14 members was formed. Yes, that’s a lot of members. Their appearance looks like a mix between the American hiphopping-bad-boy-type and the choreographic South Korean style. They are still active nowadays. Outside Japan, where they have sold over 20 million records, they are hardly known.

But Japan’s most famous boy band is Arashi 嵐, formed by Johnny’s Entertainment in 1999 and consisting of Ōno Satoshi, Sakurai Shō, Aiba Masaki, Ninomiya Kazunari and Matsumoto Jun. They have an acting career as well, appear in TV and radio shows, do commercials, host events and have their own variety show. Their fan base is not limited to young girls, but apparently they appeal to older people (men and women) as well. Many fans believe that the closeness between the members, who have been best friends for over 10 years, is the secret of their huge success.

Arashi Fan Site

Arashi Fan Site

Unlike Koreans however, the Japanese do no grasp the chance to gain international recognition because of a strict application of author’s rights. Audio and music videos are banned from the internet. In a way, I understand this, and they have enough response in their own country, but creating a foreign fan base wouldn’t be a bad idea. The best example I can give is that of Gangnam Style. What would it have been without uncensored Youtube?  In South Korea, downloading music for free is the most common thing to do, while Japanese are very reluctant to commit such a “crime” and gladly pay for it. Bernie Cho, head of DFSB Kollektive, a Korean music distribution company, even stated that “a lot of top idols make more money for a week in Japan than they do for a year in South Korea.” However, the biggest part of their earnings comes from international concerts.

Before we leave the Western music scene behind us, a word has to be said on the current two most famous boy bands, i.e. the Jonas Brothers (2008) and One Direction (2011). They reintroduced the boy band concept by throwing out choreography and focusing solely on the vocals and visuals. (Okay, Big Time Rush takes the trouble to put some dance moves in their choreography, but their dancing skills are nothing to write home about, to be honest.) One Direction makes it pretty clear at the beginning of this video clip:

A Booming Boy Band Business

South Korea, Japan and China disagree with One Direction. They prefer the spirit of the nineties, or rather, the modernized version of it. Music is important, but only a part of the game. Especially the visual aspect, the appearance as well as the dance, is a crucial factor, which makes it essential to promote them through media like television and internet. Members of boy bands are the nation’s top idols, not to mention their huge popularity. To meet the requirements and anticipations of the public, they are carefully guided by entertainment companies.

The story starts in the mid-1990s, when South Korea became largely subject to capitalism. The “Korean Wave” or hallyu 헌류 / 韓流 was born. This term stands for the spread of South Korean culture, more specifically, Kpop, Kdrama, animated cartoons, movies, language, cuisine, fashion, tourism and so on, whereof the first two are the most important. The Korean Wave can be seen as a tool of soft power, comparable with Japanese manga and anime:

“Hallyu as a national and political campaign offers the opportunity to cultivate Koreanness, as it were, through the image, the melodrama, and the music of its culture.”

A question that can be raised here is in how far Kpop is Korean. In the nineties, American music styles like techno and hiphop were introduced and embraced. These were however adopted in a Korean way. Scholar Hee-Eun Lee points out that Kpop is originally a fusion of global and local elements, supported by mass consumption in South Korea (and here I go writing again about cultural hybridity, it somehow seems to be an answer to all contemporary cultural phenomena…):

“Korea has served as a compelling example of resistance to globalization and orientation toward localization.”

In terms of music, the global aspect of Kpop is very clear. One cannot deny there is a lot of resemblance with Western pop stars. Nevertheless, Kpop is no rash copy of Lady Gaga:

“it can be seen as an essentially hybrid, yet distinct, cultural product. (…) Thus, K-Pop is not exactly exclusively “Korean”. These hybrid media forms (…) often problematize or challenge “traditional ideas of Korean-ness, traditional assumptions of uniformity and cultural homogeneity”. (…) There is “interaction between two different cultures that create commonalities who are conducive to transcultural consumption.””

Boy bands proved to be succesful in the South Korean Kpop landscape. First idol group H.O.T. won the hearts of many Korean girls, and other boy bands like Shinhwa and TVXQ – in Chinese, or DBSK in South Korean initials –  followed. Their popularity is beyond all doubt, as the latter band’s fan base of more than 800,000 members made up for “the world’s largest fanclub” in the Guinness Book of Records 2008.

Faithful fans.

Faithful fans.

The official international breakthrough of Korean boy bands internationally was the formation of Super Junior in 2005. They debuted with 12 members, and had 13 at its peak. Five years before, SM Entertainment (not what you think – stands for Success Museum) had started casting auditions and contests to scout the members. From the beginning Super Junior (SuJu) was meant to have an international career: for example, the first audition was surprisingly held in Beijing, and another member was delivered by a casting agency in Los Angeles.

The plan was a rotational system like Japanese all-girl group Morning Musume. Every year, the current “generation” of Juniors would graduate from the group and new members would be added. The plan evoked some strong reactions from the fans and SM Entertainment decided after the scouting of a thirteenth member to drop the rotation system. As a result, leader Leeteuk has reached the age of 30 this year. His youthful look still fits for a boy band, though.

The SuJu members are not just singers. They debuted in 2005, while they were scouted maximum five years before that. Imagine waiting for five years before your real appearance in public. What did they do, except practicing singing? They were trained by SM Entertainment to become true idols who can sing, dance, act and perform. How entertainment agencies make these boys into idols is for later, but the point is here that they are “a mashup of talents”. SuJu members appear in Kdrama and popular television variety and reality shows, act in movies, do musicals and host radio shows. They are called “Kings of the Hallyu Wave”. In other words, they have a successful individual career. Besides the SuJu with its thirteen members, various subgroups were formed since their debut.

Where lies the success of Kpop boy bands? Is it the music? The looks and styling? Or the elaborate training of entertainment agencies? I will try to find an answer in the next part.

Facts for fun: a non-exhaustive list of boy bands in Far East countries

  • Chinese boy bands: Top Combine, M.I.C, HIT5, A-ONE, G.I.P
  • Taiwanese boy bands: F4/JVKV, Fahrenheit, Lollipop, 183 Club, 5566
  • Japanese boy bands: EXILE, Arashi, KAT-TUN, SMAP, NEWS, GReeeeN
  • South Korean boy bands: Super Junior, Shinhwa, TVXQ/DBSK, SHINee, B.A.P, Big Bang, 2PM, 2AM, Beast, Boyfriend, C-Clown, NU’EST,MBLAQ, Infinite, EXO, SS501, U-KISS, JYJ, ZE:A, B1A4, Se7en, Teen Top


– Wikipedia
– Kim, Yong Hee. “Redefining the Real Korean Wave.” List – Books from Korea, no. 14 (winter 2011).
– “Arashi Storms to Crossover Appeal.” The Japan Times Online, February 26, 2010.
– “The Price of Fame in South Korea.” The Toonari Post – News, Powered by the People!, n.d.
– Shin, Hyun Joon. “Reconsidering Transnational Cultural Flows of Popular Music in East Asia: Transbordering Musicians in Japan and Korea Searching for Asia.” Korean Studies 33 (2009).
– Park, So Young. “Transnational Adoption, Hallyu, and the Politics of Korean Popular Culture.” Biography 33, no. 1 (winter 2010).
– Hee-Eun Lee, “Seeking the ‘Others’ Within Us,” 137-138.
– Leung, Sarah, “Catching the K-Pop Wave: Globality in the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of South Korean Popular Music” (2012). Senior Capstone Projects. Paper 149.
– Jamie Shinhee Lee, “Linguistic Hybridization in K-Pop: Discourse of Self-Assertion and Resistance,” World Englishes 23, No. 3 (2004): 446.
– Sun Jung, Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2011), 19.