Korean dramas and telenovelas are two of the most popular entertainment formats in the world, so why not marry them in a multicultural love story? That was the thinking behind Love & Noraebang, a podcast that’s set in present day Los Angeles. The ten-part romantic comedy chronicles the whirlwind romance between Jaesun, the heir to a Korean conglomerate, and Ana, a Mexican American entrepreneur. The romantic comedy podcast melodically mingles cultures, with a music score that integrates k-pop, reggaeton, pop ballads, Latin trap and noraebang, also known as karaoke.
Randall Park, known for his role in the TV comedy Fresh Off The Boat, serves as the podcast narrator. Park said he found it energizing to work on a show that blended these TV formats and to work on a project with such a diverse and creative team. “I can’t wait for audiences to hear the city of L.A. tell Ana and Jaesun’s love story.”
Justin H. Min (The Umbrella Academy) plays Jaesun and Francia Raisa (How I Met Your Father, Grownish) is Ana. Julia Cho plays Chloe and the cast also includes Emily Tosta (Mayans, M.C.), June Yoon and Rafael Torres.
The audio project is the brainchild of Sonoro, a global entertainment company, and The Mash-Up Americans, an independent creative studio. Sonoro, co-founded and led by Camila Victoriano, amplifies diverse and often overlooked voices by collaborating with leading and emerging Latinx storytellers – writers, producers, and directors – to develop and produce original franchises in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. The Mash-Up Americans, led by Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer, produces original content on multiple platforms including podcasts for entertainment companies, major tech firms and social justice organizers.
“Even if you aren’t Korean, Mexican, or living in LA, Love & Noraebang is a deeply universal love story that, while rooted in our specific experiences and values, has global appeal,” said Victoriano. “As proof of this, just a couple of days after launch we had already become the #2 fiction podcast in the United States and the #1 fiction podcast in South Korea.”
Love & Noraebang is not only the #2 Apple
“Love & Noraebang is the first of its kind,” she said. “Not just because of the story — an unapologetic celebration of two cultures coming together — but because of the team that made it. The show was produced by a 100% Latinx and Asian-American team, in front and behind the mic. You rarely see a production like that, in audio or media more broadly.”
Victoriano saw audio space as the perfect place to experiment with new ideas and push the boundaries of media. “Audio is also an incredibly accessible entry point for many creatives, and one that’s easier to get into than more traditional Hollywood spaces that are more expensive and require support from gatekeepers.”
Podcasts continue to gain in popularity. Fifty-five percent of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, up from 51 percent in 2019. Forty-eight percent of U.S. listeners are between the ages of 12 to 34 and 35% between 35 and 64.
Love & Noraebang reflects the reality of changing demographics, says Victoriano. “When we were starting this project with our partners The Mash-Up Americans, we read a statistic that both blew us away while also feeling obvious to us who lived it. Between 2010 and 2020 the multiracial population of the US increased by 276%. And by 2045 the US population will become majority non-white. Love & Noraebang shows the reality of the multi-cultural and mash-up world we already live in through the delightful and optimistic lens of a romantic comedy.”
Choi, co-founder and editorial director at Mash-Up Americans, agrees. “The past few years The Mash-Up Americans has expanded our storytelling platforms to work with progressive organizers and do deep work to elevate social justice issues that are central to our community, such as domestic labor, immigration, and antiracism work,” she said. “Love & Noraebang was an opportunity to inhabit the joyful, delicious, colorful world we are working to create every day.”
Will Jaesun and Ana find love while singing noraebang? Will they face k-drama-style or telenovela-style hardships on the road to joining hands? Will they find that cultural similarities or differences bring them closer together or push them further apart? Listeners will have to tune in to find out.
The podcast premiered on July 19 and is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcast.
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