Juhea Kim was born in In Cheon, Korea, and moved to Portland, Oregon, at age nine. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Art and Archaeology and a certificate in French. Her debut novel, Beasts of a Little Land, will be published in fall 2021 by Ecco. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Granta, Slice, Zyzzyva, Catapult, Times Literary Supplement, Joyland, Shenandoah, Guernica, Sierra Magazine, The Independent, Portland Monthly, and Dispatches from Annares anthology (Oct 2021, Forest Avenue Press). Her translation of Yi Sang Award-winning author Choi In-Ho was published in Granta. She is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine covering sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, Regional Arts & Culture Council, and Arizona State University, where she taught a class on ecological fiction as a 2020 Desert Nights Rising Stars Fellow. She is represented by Jody Kahn at Brandt & Hochman Literary Agency and United Talent Agency (film/TV).
I learned to read and write twice. First, by looking over my seven-year-old sister's shoulder, at age two; then when my family moved to the U.S. and I had to start over from the alphabet at age nine. Contrary to the myth that children absorb a new language in a flash, I went to school for almost a year not understanding more than a few sentences a day. As English finally started entering my consciousness, I realized that language is power. To be able to speak, to understand, to write—that was the basis of agency.
Once I had two languages at my disposal, I also became fascinated with the distinct, even contradictory values defined by each. Beyond power, language is also ethos. This was the beginning of my lifelong query: how language determines and defines the human experience. Both fiction and nonfiction are ways in which I attempt to answer this question. Kafka wrote, "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." To awaken consciousness and conscience is why I'm called to write.
Through nonfiction, I also explore climate change, sustainability, and conservation. Besides literature, nature has been my other lifelong constant. I'm an ethical vegan, composting enthusiast, plastic vigilante, nature photographer, and avid hiker. I've also spoken as an expert on sustainable entrepreneurship at Princeton University, Saks Fifth Avenue, Athleta, Good Goods, and others. In these and other endeavors, I always get help from my office assistants/rescue cats Zeus and Kili (Achilles). Most of the year we live in a solar-powered loft in beautiful Portland, Oregon.