A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I've written at length about the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music and how it has a habit of popping up in the least expected places in Korea. Whenever you need to emphasize the heroism or swashbucklery of a particular event or product, then look no further.

Another, far more bizarre and seemingly random piece of music that I've now seen in enough commercials to bear repeating, is the theme music from Tim Burton's whacked-out Willy Wonka.

I heard it first back in November on a home shopping channel, and thought nothing of it. They're known (at least by me) as having no discriminating taste when it comes to what western music they'll hawk their wares to. Shortly after the Wonka theme leaped out at me from periphery, I saw a pin-stripe suit being modelled by a svelte Korean man to the tune of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take it." Have English, will sell.

So that was fine, and I heard the song in passing flicking through a few more infomercials over the months. It became just another part of the din of Korean commercials, including the Sunkist "lemonadu" jingle which featured pastel-vested metrosexuals in a duelling serenade for the affections of a fickle babe, apparently hot for citrus. "Le-le-lemonadu." That bit of charming Konglish was bouncing around in my skull for way too long.

I digress. On to Wonkagate.

I was watching TV last night and was surprised to again hear the chorus of: "Willy Wonka/ Willy Wonka/ The amazing chocolatier."

It was a commercial for Hyundai... life insurance maybe? I don't know, but when one of the country's most prominent corporate entities is using bastardized Oompa Loompas to sell their, well, anything, it's a point of concern at least.

The common denominator? Johnny Depp it would seem. As the star of both movies bearing the versatile (read: baffling) theme songs appropriated by Korean ad culture, I can't help but feel that there is something more than coincidence at work.

I suppose only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Oh man, you describe that lemonade commercial perfectly. Those jerks and their song still haunt me to this day.

Also, let's be honest. What wouldn't you buy from Johnny Depp? He's so dreamy. He could sell rollar skates to a paraplegic.

Anonymous said...

Sam! Mum just sent me the link to your blog. Korea, eh? Could you move ANY further away? Glad to see you're happy and well.

Sam said...

Hey Maggie! I guess not eh? I'm literally on the opposite side of the Earth as NS. It's been quite a ride so far, but I'll be happy to be back in familiar lands in September. Thanks for stopping by.