The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] ‘Beasts of a Little Land’ author Juhea Kim on love, nature and upcoming screen adaptations

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 9, 2023 - 16:31

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Juhea Kim (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald) Juhea Kim (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

Korean American author Juhea Kim’s creative journey is taking an exciting turn as she expands her passion into the film industry, with both her short story “Biodome” and debut novel “Beasts of a Little Land” set for screen adaptations.

Kim’s 2021 short story “Biodome,” published in the triennial literary magazine ZYZZYVA, is slated to be adapted into a film.

Set in futuristic Seoul, the dystopian sci-fi romance centers around an engineer named Park who is in charge of maintaining the biodome that shields the city from yellow dust pollution. Park is on a date with Jina on Yellow Day, which marks the day of the biodome's completion, when he has an "epiphany" -- he realizes that there could indeed be a crack in the dome, something he had been suspecting for some time.

“We start to wonder if Park will ever leave the biodome, whether it’s possible to be human while removed from nature,” said Kim in a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul.

She hinted that the 20-page short story will be transformed into a feature film that focuses on the romance between Park and Jina. All shooting and production will take place in Korea, led by a Hollywood-based company.


“If I ever sell my literary projects as adaptations, I wanted to be an executive producer,” said Kim. “I like to be involved in the creative process. I don’t have to be the person writing a dialogue. But I’ve always considered myself a holistic creative artist, so I am engaged in storytelling, plot and art direction.”

The author, 35, holds a degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University, along with a certificate in French. Born in Incheon, Kim moved to Portland, Oregon at age 9, and is fluent in Korean.

Kim is also involved in the screen adaptation of “Beasts of a Little Land.”

The book depicts an epic tale of love, war and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial era. Published in December 2021 by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins, the historical novel was inspired by stories about her grandfather. It was translated into Korean and published by Dasan Books in September 2022.

While she kept the Korean production company's name under wraps, the author expressed her enthusiasm for the drama adaptation.

“Of course, the entire production will take place in Korea and the cast will be Korean actors,” she said. “We felt that shooting overseas would dilute the Korean essence of the story and will not be doing justice to its spirit.”

Kim said she is fully onboard the team, planning to be traveling back and forth to Korea for the production.

“I knew that (my debut novel) was going to be my most personal story ever. I don’t think anything more personal will come.”

From left: English edition, Korean edition and recover Korean edition of From left: English edition, Korean edition and recover Korean edition of "Beasts of a Little Land" by Juhea Kim (Ecco, Dasan Books)

Her voice trembled and tears welled up in her eyes as she talked about her grandfather. Where does her passion and devotion come from? “It’s love,” she said.

“I think people are wondering what’s my secret routine,” Kim said. “Many think it’s because I’m highly motivated or stubborn, and those things are probably true, but I think it’s love.”

Kim said she received a lot of love from her family and cherishes deep friendships with longtime friends.

“I think love is like solar power and you’re like a battery. You hold it in there and keep recharging yourself. I think that is my biggest strength,” she said. “The reason I go through every hurdle is because of that ability to give my love to everybody, and that makes me strong.”

Kim extends her love to nature and animals as well. An ethical vegan since 19, she is also the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine covering sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature.

She is also participating in several organizations dedicated to conserving tigers, including a nonprofit to which she has been donating a portion of her proceeds of “Beasts of a Little Land.”

Speaking about her next literary project, Kim said she has recently completed writing a novel about a ballerina which is going to be “a love story between art and the artist.”