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Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Origin Story is a documentary by comedian and podcast host Kulap Vilaysack of Earwolf's "Who Charted?" It's an international road trip from Los Angeles to Minnesota to Laos, where Kulap's story began. It's a deeply personal but universal story about family secrets, alienation and personal responsibility.



Roundabout road signs in Vientiane, Laos

Chickens at ferry noodle shop in Champassack

Night Market in Vientiane

The country of Laos (The Lao People's Democratic Republic, or Lao PDR)

is landlocked by China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It has a population of over 6 million with 49 ethnic groups - mostly Lao, Khmou and Hmong. Laos' capital city and economic center is Vientiane, with a population of 750,000. Exports include water-generated electricity and precious metals. 

The Lao people enjoy a tropical climate year-round. They've given the PDR acronym a double-meaning to convey their laid-back lifestyle - Please Don't Rush. Lao's tourism industry is steadily growing, as nature lovers flock to the beautiful waterfalls, limestone landscape formations, Buddhist and Hindu temples, ferry-studded bodies of water and rare snub-nosed dolphins along the small islands. You might end a long, hot day in an open-air market with a delicious meal of sticky rice, Larb, and a cold bottle of BeerLao.

Kulap's parents met and fled from Laos in the late 70s after the Vietnam and Secret War. They escaped across the Mekong River to reach a refugee camp in Thailand before immigrating to the United States. ORIGIN STORY marks the first time Ku traveled to the country on her own as an adult. 

Learn more:

Laos Map