copyright (c) 2022 Juhea Kim



2022 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalist




2024 Yasnaya Polyana Prize shortlist


Longlisted for the 2022 HWA Debut Crown Award | Longlisted for the 2023 Nota Bene Prize |

Finalist for the 2022 Balcones Fiction Prize

A Best Book of 2021: Harper's Bazaar, Real Simple, Ms. Magazine, Portland Monthly

Amazon Best Books of December 2021 | December 2021 Indie Next List Pick | December 2021 Library Reads Pick

US & Canada: Ecco (out now)

Korea: Dasan Books (out now)

Australia: Oneworld (out now)

UK: Oneworld (out now)

Russia: Eksmo (Feb 14, 2024)

Italy: Nord (out now)

France: Les Presses de la Cité (out now)

Brazil: Melhoramentos (out now)

Spain (world Spanish): Quaterni (out now)

Arabic (Saudi Arabia et al): Book Club Publications (out now)

Turkey: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları

Czech: Jota (out now)

The last tiger killed in Korea, 1921.

An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement.


In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from an attacking tiger. In an instant, their fates are connected—and from this encounter unfolds a saga that spans half a century.

     In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school, an act of desperation that will cement her in the lowest social status. When she befriends a local orphan boy named JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets of Seoul, they form a deep friendship. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide whether she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her.

     From the perfumed chambers of a courtesan school in PyongYang to the glamorous cafes of a modernizing Seoul and the boreal forests of Manchuria, where battles rage, Juhea Kim’s unforgettable characters forge their own destinies as they wager their nation’s. Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.


A portion of the author advance and royalties of Beasts of a Little Land will benefit the Phoenix Fund, a Siberian tiger and Amur leopard conservation nonprofit.

Praise for Beasts of a Little Land

“I would like to talk about the novel by a young Korean writer, Beasts of a Little Land. There are animals here, and this is a tiger—a symbol of Korean independence. I would compare the work with the work of Alexei Tolstoy The Road to Calvary. The novel is very well written: transparent and wise—amazing for a young writer. It seems to me that this novel has a great destiny.”

—Pavel Basinsky, writer, literary critic, member of the Yasnaya Polyana Prize jury


A heartbreaking story of the chaos of a half-century of love, idealism, war and violence covering most of the twentieth century across the Korean peninsula. Dreamy, intense and emotionally fraught.

—2022 HWA Debut Crown Award


“In Juhea Kim’s debut novel, the land may be small but the scope is immense, as in a grand Russian novel complete with battlefields, intergenerational legacies and snarled love affairs... Everyone is extraordinary, a singular beast in exceptional times, and in Kim’s capable hands this liberty pays connecting the stars of an expansive constellation that illuminates a changing nation. Beasts of a Little Land is a stunning achievement. Juhea Kim wrestles with the chaos of a half-century of love, idealism, war and violence, and does so with courage and wisdom.”

—Yoojin Grace Wuertz, Times Literary Supplement


With poetic and sensual sensibility, and often mischievous prose, this saga traces the struggle of the Korean people for their survival and independence in the 20th century... History is implacable, but happiness nonetheless manifests itself in luminously flashing moments.

D'un romanesque poétique et sensuel, d'une écriture souvent malicieuse, cette saga retrace la lutte du peuple coréen au XXe siècle pour sa survie et son indépendance... La grande Histoire est implacable, mais le bonheur se manifeste parfois dans une soudaineté éticelante.”

Madame Figaro (France)


Assured and textured debut...following a cast of characters whose fates are molded and linked together by the country’s political forces and who, in the face of colonialism, violence and severe injustice, carve out spaces to live and love.

New York Times Book Review


With a deft hand, the Korean-born author, who settled in the United States with her family, brings all her characters to life to tell the story of her native land. With them, we feel the beating heart of the country and we share the thirst for freedom and independence of its people who can no longer stand the increasingly ferocious Japanese occupation... With this epic, as emotional as it is historical, Juhea Kim illustrates all the major developments in the country, such as the influence of the Western world on a people so steeped

in their traditions.

Habilement, l’autrice, née en Corée, qui s’est installée aux États-Unis avec sa famille, met en scène tous ses personnages pour raconter sa terre natale. Avec eux, on sent battre le cœur du pays et on partage la soif de liberté et d’indépendance de son peuple qui n’en peut plus de cette occupation japonaise de plus en plus féroce...Avec cette fresque, aussi sentimentale qu’historique, Juhea Kim illustre toutes les grandes évolutions du pays, comme l’influence du monde occidental sur un peuple si pétri de ses traditions.”

—Didier Gourin, Ouest-France


A magnificent, mesmerizing story of love and evocative and emotive historical novel...characters are so sensitively and carefully drawn that even the 'enemy' can be seen to have a human side. Cinematic in its scope, this is the type of novel that the reader finishes both with pleasure (for its satisfying dénouement and pleasing circularity) and sadness (at having to leave the story behind).

New Internationalist, 5 star review


“Magnifique...D'autant plus réussi qu'il s'agit d'une première oeuvre... « Créatures du petit pays » s’en tient à un procédé narratif classique, mais parfaitement maîtrisé…c’est un regard aussi lucide que touchant sur l’histoire tourmentée du pays qui nous est proposé. Et l’on suit ce récit avec d’autant plus d’émotion que Juhea Kim use d’un style d’une parfaite limpidité, dépourvu des artificielles sophistications dont nous sommes si souvent abreuvés, mais jouant opportunément des ellipses…Juhea Kim sait à merveille dévoiler au plus profond le cœur de ses personnages, pour que l’on comprenne au mieux leurs actes, sans pour autant jamais les juger…C’est pour toutes ces raisons que « Créatures du petit pays » est de la veine des grands romans populaires. Ce qu’il raconte nous émeut. Ce qui en fait un roman rare, à bien des égards.”

Le Télégramme


“An epic novel brings complex 20th-century Korean history to life. In this extraordinary historical novel, debut author Kim weaves together the story of friends and rivals struggling to survive and thrive... Gorgeous prose and unforgettable characters combine to make a literary masterpiece.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“Covering most of the twentieth century across the Korean peninsula, Kim’s debut novel wondrously reveals broken families and surprising alliances created by uncontrollable circumstances...[A] richly alluring and significant first novel.”

Booklist, starred review


“This kaleidoscopic debut is powerful, romantic and wholly unforgettable.”

Ms., a Best Book of 2021


“Captivating…The times the characters must survive are often violent and harsh, but they maintain a surprising tenderheartedness, along with a deep need for love and purpose. Readers should expect to be swept along themselves by the waves of passion and tragedy that make the novel so appealing.”

—Shelf Awareness, starred review


“Juhea Kim’s ambitious debut novel is an epic saga spanning fifty years of Korean history...It’s a potent and immersive reading experience, alive to the particulars of its place and time. Intimate but politically resonant, it’s perfect for fans of Min Jin Lee and Isabelle Allende.”

—The Chicago Review of Books


“Gorgeous…This transporting and elegant tale of complicated characters whose lives intertwine during the Korean independence movement of the early twentieth century is not to be missed…Kim’s vivid and precise descriptions of place glow…affecting.”

—Sloane Crosley, Departures


« Très romanesque, le récit apparaît pourtant comme un témoignage historique, rendu d'autant plus poignant et humain que Juhea Kim l'a jalonné de passages époustouflants. »

La Voix du Nord


« Empathique et vigoureuse, l'écriture de Juhea Kim confère à ses héros ambigus une authenticité attachante. »

La Croix


« Autant de personnages, autant d'histoires, pour un roman puissant, passionnant et fort bien documenté et donc, un savoureux moment de lecture. 

Such characters, such stories, that make up a powerful novel; fascinating, extremely well documented and thus a reading experience to savor. »

Le Dauphine


« Découvrir en compagnie de héros tout en contraste un peu de l'Histoire du XXe siècle de la Corée en pleine ébullition, entre passions, patriotisme... Un premier roman épique! »

Femme Actuelle


“[A] rich sweep of a story... 'People are brave in different ways,' affirms Jade’s lifelong admirer JungHo, a sentiment that infuses the book.

Christian Science Monitor


“Absorbing, sweeping...Throughout the novel, observations about world politics remind readers of that greater history...[with] complex and interesting characters.”

LA Times


“I read this 400-page epic story about war and love across decades of South Korea's history in a single sitting...It's a twist on historical fiction that roars with life.”

Entertainment Weekly


“Unrequited love, class warfare, scandal...this novel has it all.”

Real Simple, a Best Book of 2021


“Some people say that all stories are about either love or war. Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century Korea, Kim’s epic debut novel is about both.”

Harper’s Bazaar, a Best Book of 2021


Beasts of a Little Land is as much a story of love—requited, unrequited, imperfect, fleeting, dogged, romantic, platonic, familial—and the knocks of time on our bodies and spirits as it is about a moment for one country struggling against colonialism. In Kim’s deft hands, it becomes an epic tale of human connection over a lifetime and a lyrical portrait of the land they all call home.”

Portland Monthly, a Best Book of 2021


“We see what each of these characters is willing to risk or sacrifice, whether for survival or some other purpose...remarkable.”

—Rachael Nevins, Ploughshares


“Juhea Kim is a terrific writer, easily engendering empathy for each of these characters and the lot they’re dealt and why they make the choices they do. An incredibly immersive read that brilliantly weaves a love story within the history of twentieth century Korea.”

—Al Woodworth, an Amazon Best Book of December 2021


“You wouldn’t know from reading it that Beasts of a Little Land is Kim’s debut novel. There is no shortage of ambition on display here, and fleet-footed narrative pacing to match it…. A book written with warmth [and] wisdom.”

USA Today


“[An] ambitious debut…. A kaleidoscopic view of Korean history…. Juhea Kim is as intelligent and intrepid as Jade.”

San Francisco Chronicle


“Beautiful… The writing has a dreamlike quality that immerses the reader in a fascinating world… Not only is this a gorgeously written story, but Kim also gives us insight into a historical period with which many Westerners will be unfamiliar.”

Historical Novel Review, Editor's Choice


“[A] dreamy, intense debut… The prose is ravishing and Kim demonstrates remarkable control of a complicated narrative. Even those with little knowledge of Korean history will come away struck by the way individuals shape and are shaped by the political and cultural changes of the first half of the 20th century.”

Publisher's Weekly


“Kim delivers one of the dazzling debuts of the year with this epic story...prepare to be moved by the powerful prose and swept away.”



“With marvelous prose and immersive storytelling, Beasts of a Little Land shows that Juhea Kim is an author to watch. You won’t be able to put this book down.”

—Apartment Therapy, The Best Book of December 2021


“Accomplished...As the paths of her characters twist and cross and their fortunes rise and fall, [Kim] keeps the weight of the personal and political in perfect balance. Beasts of a Little Land is epic in range but intimate in emotional depth, sure to appeal to readers of historical fiction who prize a well-wrought character.”



"Un vrai grand roman historique...À travers les destins qui sans cesse se croisent, s’éloignent et se recroisent d’une poignée de picaros coréens des deux sexes, Juhea Kim retrace l’histoire d’un pays déchiré, occupé par les Japonais, terrain de jeu de la Guerre froide, soumis à un dictateur sanglant, mais toujours soucieux de beauté."



“The book explores the love that holds people together, the violence that tears them apart, and the persistence of empathy, compassion, and inyeon—destiny that links two people over the course of their lives—all of which make humanity whole.”

Bitch Media


“A debut literary sensation that starts with poetry in motion.”

The Australian Women's Weekly


“An extraordinary debut novel...this is a sweeping epic that spans the turbulent decades of Korea’s fight for independence...Through her magnificent prose and unforgettable characters Kim has created a literary masterpiece of love and war, and the alliances created by uncontrollable circumstance.”

—Business Day (South Africa)


This is historical fiction at its very best! I'm astonished by Juhea's talent.

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

internationally best-selling author of The Mountains Sing


Beasts of a Little Land is an emotional, raw, and moving novel about friendship and the struggle for Korean independence. It is a novel unlike anything I've read. Most importantly, though, it is a novel about love. Juhea Kim writes beautifully in a way that makes it difficult to put this novel down. I loved it.”

—Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

“In Beasts of a Little Land, Juhea Kim has taken the concept of inyeon—human thread—to weave a beautiful story in which human connections and encounters are preordained. She explores the ideas of fate, fortune, and destiny against the backdrop of the great turbulence and historic events that transpired on the Korean peninsula during the twentieth century. A spectacular debut filled with great characters and heart.”

—Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


“Told through the lives of a rich cast of characters—courtesans, Japanese generals, and revolutionaries—whose stories intertwine in the most unexpected ways, it is by turns political and sensual, epic and intimate. It is also a profound meditation on place; Kim evokes the urban and natural landscapes of Korea with transporting beauty. This novel will devastate you and then still you with its wise meditations on love and loss. I couldn’t put it down.” 

—Alexis Schaitkin, author of Saint X


Juhea Kim's sweeping debut is pure reading pleasure. Rapturous, ravishing, and gorgeously rendered, Beasts of a Little Land is a portal to a whole world teeming with life, so full of wonders that I wanted it never to end.

—Catherine Chung, author of The Tenth Muse


Elegant and wise, lush and immersive, Beasts of a Little Land is Tolstoyan in its sweep and ambition as it brings to life the Korean struggle against Japanese occupation. Juhea Kim is a conjurer of rare ability whose magnificent debut utterly enchants.

—Keija Parssinen, author of The Unraveling of Mercy Louis


“Beasts of a Little Land is a heart-breaking story rendered mythic by Kim’s gorgeous prose.”

—Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared