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juhea kim

Episode 6: He Said Not to a Queen

Novelist Juhea Kim talks about the sweet, sweet writing motivation of revenge

Juhea Kim is a writer with bylines in a wide range of publications including Granta, the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, Guernica, and more.  Her debut novel Beasts of a LIttle Land was critically acclaimed and a finalist for the 2022 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She is also the founding editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine covering sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature. 

Juhea Kim  0:00  

And so I decided that I'm going to show him that I'm gonna write a book and become famous


Fiona McCann  0:12  

Welcome to we can print this.


Eden Dawn  0:14  

It's a podcast telling the story you don't know behind the story you do know


Fiona McCann  0:19  

And you should know


Eden Dawn: 

And you should know. 


Fiona McCann: 

And you will definitely know because after this podcast, you will go out and read that story. I'm Fiona McCann.


eden dawn  0:28  

And I am Eden dawn. 


Fiona McCann  0:31  

And joining us this week is Juhea Kim, who is the author of the epic saga, an amazingly beautiful book called beasts of a little land. And I don't say that lightly do I?


Eden Dawn  0:42  

She's very judgmental. 


Fiona McCann  0:43  

I am very judgmental about books. But this is really a stunning book. It's a beautiful story that spans generations. And it's set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement, which is something I didn't know, a lot of bash. And now I know more than it prompted me to sort of dive into that history a little bit, which was really interesting. And also, don't just take it for me. It was described by Kirkus the notoriously curmudgeonly Kirkus, I will add as a literary masterpiece, so not too shabby.


Eden Dawn  1:10  

We have her this week to talk about writing motivation. Specifically, she gets into revenge writing as her motivation. Fiona, what is your writing motivation?


Fiona McCann  1:24  


I'm just motivated by deadlines. I can stare at a blank screen for days on end. And then I'm like, I'd love to write this piece that I've had on my desk for forever, but I have to clean the microwave, which I don't even have


Eden Dawn 1:34  

Yes, spoiler alert. You always know we're really on deadline when we do our Buzzfeed quizzes. That's how you know, that's how you know you're a real writer, is you're procrastinating on a deadline by doing a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which Golden Girl you are. That's That's how you know,


Fiona McCann  1:53  

Sophia? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I'm Sophie. I mean, also, she's the smallest one. Yeah,


Eden Dawn 1:59  

and I'm an Blanche even though I wish I was sluttier. But I'm a Blanchett heart.


Fiona McCann  2:03  

You are Blanche. But you do? Yeah. You're Blanche.


Eden Dawn  2:05  

Yeah, I gotta slutty energy, even if it doesn't. I don't follow through with it. But I gotta slutty energy. I will tell you my writing motivation, because I don't know how to write fiction. All of my writing has been journalist writing, essay writing, storytelling, writing, it's always seems from my own life. So here's what I do instead, to find my writing motivation is I put myself in odd situations in order to have a story to tell or something to write about.


Fiona McCann  2:38  

Can you give us an example of that there Eden


Eden Dawn  2:40  

I was searching something on our slack. And it came up where I specifically had told you that I was allowing myself to be in this situation, because it might make a good essay one day, and you'll probably remember it and I don't want to out myself. But here's, here's what people need to know. And I outside of just writing about fashion have styled many fashion editorials, commercials, a lot of stuff with bands over the years. And I was styling a photoshoot for a well known band, a band that 


Fiona McCann: 

Oh, I know what band. 


Eden Dawn: 

Yes. So styling a photo shoot for a well known band. And if you will recall, the lead singer, who is a grown man,


Fiona McCann  3:29  

You're being so diplomatic. So diplomatic. Do you think they're gonna sue us? 


Eden Dawn  3:33  

He did not know his shoe size while I'm trying to pull clothing while they're touring around the world and doing all this stuff? The grown man did not know his shoe size. So here's what he did do is he took off.


Fiona McCann  3:50  

I know where this is going. And it's so ridiculous. I don't think anyone could guess.


Eden Dawn  3:56  

He took off his shoe. And he put his foot on a piece of paper. So we


Fiona McCann  4:00  

took off his shoe. Did he look? No. He did. Maybe the bit on the inside? Nope. He


Eden Dawn  4:05  

took off his shoe. And he put his foot on a piece of paper. And he traced his foot with a pen. And then had an assistant take a picture of the piece of paper and sent me the text message of his foot drying


Fiona McCann  4:25  

so that you would understand the size of this foot. Did they? Okay, and you immediately saw that picture and you were like, well, it's 38 and a half!


Eden Dawn  4:34  

I don't know what the frame of references. Was it an eight and a half by 11. Was that a legal piece of paper? Was it a random sheet of butcher paper? I don't know. There wasn't a quarter there for reference or anything. It was just a vague outline of a foot that someone sent to me because a grown man because he plays in a band can't know his shoe size. So that was what I was dealing with while trying to actually get the shoes for the shoot that had very, very detailed requirements. And while going through this pain, I remember slacking you and you were like you should quit. And I was like, no, because it might make a good story. So this is the things that we do for writing motivation. That's what I feel my writing motivation is, is often submitting myself into a situation so that something happens, which I am compelled to then have an interesting tale to write about


Fiona McCann  5:31  

to put pen to paper afterwards to put pen to paper, it's have to go back to the fact that he took off his shoe and then was like, What is the most logical next step? And then nobody does the problem with people who get quite famous as well. Nobody. His assistant didn't go. That's bad idea.


Eden Dawn  5:47  

I felt like I could have said so many more things. But he would think I'd let you know, sometimes it's just better to not say at all, say less.


Fiona McCann  5:54  

It's not our motto, have a drink. But in an interview, it is our motto, actually, sometimes. And I know it's really difficult. But yeah, it's so funny, because when I was thinking about that, I was like, What's my motivation, money. And then as you rightfully pointed out, you're like, you've hardly made any money over the course of your life in journalism.


Eden Dawn  6:11  

But here's the deal, a book as I just have. My second one going off to print is a different thing, because you pitch it and you have to be excited enough about an idea to be in it. And it's just a different that it's not just deadline driven. So I feel like Juhea’s story is really interesting because you need a something to quote at basically every drag queen that's ever been in trouble on RuPaul drag race you need something to light that fire under your ass to keep going. And hers was revenge. That's a good one.


Fiona McCann  6:44  

What, you'll hear from Juhea’s is how that kicked something off that then goes so far beyond this, which I think is a great thing we can you can be motivated to do something and then the thing takes a life of its own right that's it that's it um, 


eden dawn  6:58  

So keep listening. Get excited about revenge, and what you could produce and the really harness that yeah, and in a healthy way. Super healthy. Not in a true crime. She killed her husband kind of way but in a healthy become a best selling novelist. Amazing way. 


Fiona McCann  7:20  

Write literary masterpiece, kind of way. Okay. Welcome Juhea!


Juhea Kim  7:25  

thanks so much Eden. And Fiona. I'm so happy to be here.


Fiona McCann  7:29  

That must have been exciting when you read that you had written a literary masterpiece. Were you like, Yep,


Juhea Kim  7:34  

it was. And yes, Kirkus does have that reputation for anybody who doesn't know the ins and outs of book publishing. So it was an honor. And yeah, I've been excited about a lot of these reviews, especially coming from around the world to have seen my book reviewed by Vika row in France, or to go on interviews in national TV. In Seoul, all those experiences have been really memorable.


Fiona McCann  8:02  

You're an internationally acclaimed literary master. That's amazing.


Eden Dawn  8:05  

And for a debut novel, that's so exciting.


Juhea Kim  8:10  

It is, it truly, truly is, I would have to say the highs have been higher than I ever imagined. And the lows happen a lot lower than I also imagined.


Eden Dawn  8:19  

Oh, interesting. And is that because you just felt like the biggest hard time would be getting the book actually out. And then once it was out, you're like, now the roller coaster goes, and you just didn't know what to expect,


Juhea Kim  8:31  

right? I completely didn't know what to expect, and pre publication and I had talked to other writer friends who said that when their first book came out, they curled up into a ball didn't want to meet anybody, and really went into a spiral. Some of these friends told me, I booked a therapist months in advance, before the publication, and I was all ready to go because I had poured all of my soul into this one book. And remember, it's around 30 years of my life experience and who I am as a person that went into this one book, and I was so proud, and I was ready to face the world. But what I didn't understand was that writing a book is a very private and intimate process. It's just between you and the book. And that space was so sacred and so freeing, but once it leaves your hands and becomes this thing that people can buy and have opinions on or you know, the publisher can package as a product. You don't have that kind of control or relationship over it. And that was an eye opening experience. But I will say that what made it all worthwhile is the relationship with readers. I think it was Amis who said you can always tell the real fans because their hands start shaking. And when I heard that pre publication, I was like, well, you think you're a lot but 


Fiona McCann

He does 


Juhea Kim: 

yes. I don't have that arrogant attitude. But when I see somebody who is I'm crying because she connected with me through my book. And now she's meeting me in person like, it's, it's very healing for me.


Eden Dawn  10:09  

It is such an interesting thing too, because you can never predict how people are going to interact with your writing, so much of writing, is it to you in front of a laptop, often questioning all of your life's choices. What did I do? Why am I here? And then you release it to the world, and then they have their own thoughts on it.


Fiona McCann  10:28  

I do like this idea of getting a therapist lined up, though, I really think that's smart. I


Eden Dawn: 10:32  

think you need a therapist lined up for the writing part too, though,


Fiona McCann  10:35  

mean for everything, I would recommend lining a therapist up, for everything, but that's very smart. But we're here really to talk about the story behind the story, as we like to call it. I know that you've talked in a lot of interviews about how the book was inspired by your maternal grandmother, or grandfather, oh, Grandfather, I beg your pardon? Who was an independence fighter in Korea during the colonial period, is that right? But I know that that was not the only motivation, shall we say, for writing the book? Can you tell me a little bit about what is the thing that really motivated you to get it out there?


Juhea Kim  11:12  

Right. So, you know, my grandfather was the inspiration. But what inspires us can or doesn't have to overlap with what motivates us. And what motivated me to write a book, which is quite an undertaking was a far less noble person in my life. I had fallen in love and had this passionate love affair with a man that I met in New York, in my late 20s.


Fiona McCann

Late 20s 


Fiona McCann  11:47  

such a time for about a love affair. And really,


Juhea Kim  11:51  

it because because I think you're at that stage where you know who you are, but you also still have that incompleteness and you know how to love better than your early 20s Puppyish love so I had become a woman at this point. But despite the fact that emotionally I was mature, or maturing, I had yet to find myself really professionally. So at that time, I had quit my job in the editorial department of a renowned New York publisher some years ago, and I was surviving on savings and also freelancing. So I was really, really in financially a bad shape. 


FIona McCann:

In New York!


Eden Dawn  12:35  

not a good city to be living off savings, probably


Juhea Kim  12:40  

right. So I met this man, and he was German, and probably still is. Alive. German guy, very striking, looking tall and handsome, I suppose in a conventional way.


Fiona McCann  13:02  

Love the way the shade is coming out. Now. I mean, if you like that sort of thing.


Juhea Kim  13:07  

So I met him on a summer night, and I had said goodbye to my college friend who I went out with that night, and I was texting my friend, hey, good night and walk into the subway station. And as I was texting, there were a couple of lesbians on the side of the road. And they called out to me and they said, Oh, you look great honey today. So I said to them, well, thank you. And I kept walking. And this man came from behind me, passed me, and then turned around and said, You shouldn't talk to everybody you meet in New York.


Fiona McCann  13:47  

I thought you're gonna tell me he immediately agreed with them, because that would be chivalrous, but that's okay.


Eden Dawn  13:54  

So aggressive, opener, aggressive, just starting out with a declarative like, just demanding of you like, yeah, and


Juhea Kim  14:02  

And also telling me, who are you to give me advice? Yeah. So I said, Well, you're talking to me right now. And this way, we started talking. And even in the dim light, I could see that he had these bright blue eyes, and he was of course handsome. So I kept talking to him. And we had a drink. Wait, hold on,


Fiona McCann  14:25  

you'd like skipped a lot there. You're on the street. And he's like, don't talk to strangers. And the next thing, you're in a bar,


Juhea Kim  14:33  

and he kept saying some other things. And I kept saying some of the things and he was like, Do you want to go for a drink? Okay, fine. This guy


Fiona McCann  14:40  

warned you not to talk to strangers. And the next thing you're off having a drink with him? Oh, my gosh,


Eden Dawn  14:44  

I feel like there's something in our late 20s Where bossy men seemed mature. There was a thing about like their bossiness that I mistook for maturity. I don't know. Perhaps I'm speaking from my own trauma, but yeah, 


Juhea Kim  15:00  

No, no, I think that makes a lot of sense. And also because I have such a strong personality in order for me to be attracted to somebody, I need your level of confidence and he provided that confidence. So


Eden Dawn  15:14  

well maybe that's it. It's bossiness can be mistaken for confidence, right? Which is not the same thing, right? Because you can be very confident and not bossy or or rude or demanding.


Juhea Kim  15:25  

That's where maturity comes in, I think,


Fiona McCann  15:28  

yeah, full circle.


Edren Dawn 15:29  

We've gotten to the bottom of it. We got to the bottom of it.


Juhea Kim  15:31  

I didn’t know all this. I was still young,


Fiona McCann  15:33  

You' were still young

Eden Dawn 15:34  

I'm figuring it out right now in this moment.


Juhea Kim  15:38  

That's how we met. And later on, he revealed to me that he had actually seen me walking toward him. And I was on my phone. So I didn't even know that he was he crossed me. And then he turned around, he was like, I need to talk to that girl. And so he turned around, he was following me. And then the lesbians flirted with me a little bit. And he was like, This is my chance to talk to her. So he passed me by and then turn around is that don't talk to everybody. 


Fiona McCann: 

He made it seem so casual, and it was all so planned! 


Juhea Kim: 

I know! I was just looking on my phone. And so this is a big problem, because I had this romantic idea that love is like, you know, love at first sight. And he's giving me all these feelings. And these dramatic entrances have happened quite a few times in my life where these handsome men were pursuing me. But now I think the word love bombing comes to mind


Fiona McCann  16:35  

the love bomb. 


Juhea Kim  16:39  

But that wasn't popularized until only a few years ago.


Eden Dawn  16:43  

I think we're just starting to figure I think we're just starting to figure it out. Because it felt again, when you're young, it feels fairytale like. 


Fiona McCann  16:53  

And it's so easy to be swept off your feet in that moment. And when somebody has sort of enough feeling for both of you in the initial moments, but this is why we need language like love bomb to come into the lexicon in time before we experience it. 


Juhea Kim  17:05  

I mean, if only I'd have become popular in my late 20s. 


Fiona McCann  17:09  

But we might not have had Beasts of a Little land. 


Juhea Kim  17:12  

So oh my gosh, yes. 


Fiona McCann  17:15  

I don't even say it out loud.


Eden Dawn  17:16  

Once you were just telling me didn't you have a love bomber?


Fiona McCann  17:20  

Many I've been razed to the ground by love bomb. I tell you, I did have a love bomber, who was also in finance. Was this this guy was in finance? Yes, he was the finance guys with the love bombs. I think it's part of the MO it's very efficient, is saying yeah, so full of bomb. And then you do something vaguely human like if I was in the bath or something. And then the love bomb dissipates. It's very,


Juhea Kim  17:44  

it's true. And I think it makes sense because the finance guys, they're self selecting group of go getters and they're very goal oriented. And they're all about acquiring. So your love is even something that they acquire. And they get their money aggressively as well. But for being a finance person, he had other poetic sensibilities that I found very touching. And I mean, I guess like he's allowed to have more than one dimension,


Fiona McCann  18:14  

a banker poet, that's lethal


Juhea Kim  18:17  

Well, I don't think he actually read poetry. But he said some meaningful things. And in fact, I think a lot of the romantic aspects that made it onto the pages of beasts were inspired by him. He is a direct inspiration behind huncho. This heart but ultimately, self centered man that the main character Jade falls in love pretty much for the rest of her life.


Fiona McCann  18:45  

She is too good for him. I'm just saying,


Juhea Kim  18:47  

I think a lot of the times in life women are too good for men in general in love, because I think women give more. But you know, this is all individual. I think men are perfectly capable of being just as selfless.


Eden Dawn  19:01  

So of course they are and I agree with you. Of course they are. And I agree with you.


Fiona McCann  19:07  

I mean, that's that character is so disappointing in the story, because I think in some ways, and there's this a little bit like you're talking about the fairy tale, right? You we've absorbed the fairy tale and I'm reading it in a book. And I'm like, of course, this is his beautiful love story. And then he is so disappointing, and she loves him forever. And it's, yeah, I'm mad at him.


Eden Dawn  19:29  

So you count it as a love at first sight. That's how you feel that have that story


Juhea Kim  19:33  

of for sure. Yeah. And you know, even after being older, I am 35 now and have had other experiences. I am a lot more disillusioned about love. But I would say that yeah, I would still call it love at first sight because love is imperfect. But insofar as love is an imperfect thing and it's illusory. I think it was true to an extent for both of us and he fell completely for me as well. But while we passionately like fell into this deep intimacy, it also didn't work out largely because he found me not successful enough for him. 


Eden Dawn and Fiona McCann: 



Juhea Kim: 

I remember he came over to me 


Eden Dawn: 

how long were you together before? 


Juhea Kim: 

Oh, you know, honestly, even that part’s hazy, maybe several months of, you know, passionate love affair. I remember he came over to my Washington Heights sublet room that was like, really, really bad. And at that time again, he was a banker making a lot more money than me. And eventually he found a job at Goldman in San Francisco, which was like his dream. And I'm rolling my eyes here for the listeners. Yeah,


Fiona McCann  21:04  

we're all rolling our eyes, 


Eden Dawn: 

A dream job at Goldman is just whatever, whatever. But it's far from a dream job as possible. 


Juhea Kim  21:15  

You know, I said a tearful farewell. I was like, Okay, goodbye. You know, like, I always knew that you wanted that. So good for you. And goodbye. But later on. After he'd already left I found out from a mutual friend, who was mutual friends with this other Korean young woman, that he may be seeing her and may have been seeing her when he was sort of still seeing me. But not that we were ever like exclusive of it was not like a boyfriend girlfriend thing ever. But, you know, just imagine hearing this from my friend, Lisa, to whom I had described this person as this great lost love. Like we couldn't work it out. But then Lisa knew this other woman who was a Harvard Business grad and worked for a hedge fund. And I've seen her photos. I may have even hung out with her at a party. But the only thing that I did strongly feel was that she wasn't as beautiful as I was. 


Fiona McCann  22:21  

She surely wasn't.


Eden Dawn  22:22  

I think it's good for the self esteem to feel that way. And people are allowed. If you're not exclusive, it's fine, if people are dating multiple people, I've done that when you're not exclusive. No problem, but it's unusual. Or maybe the red flag comes up for me when you see a pattern when like you and the other person they're dating seem quite similar or look similar, that's always a little strange to me.


Juhea Kim  22:44  

I didn't enjoy the Korean part at all. Yeah, no red flag. Yeah. What's up with that? Also,


Fiona McCann  22:50  

but come on. Is it okay, look, I understand the non exclusivity but like, it's hard for me to balance the love bomb with the non exclusivity like are you love bombing everybody? Are you just love bombing me, but you're sleeping with everybody? Like I'm confused about that a little bit?


Eden Dawn 23:08  

Yeah, men are confusing. Yeah. 


Juhea Kim: 

Right. They're saying all those things that seem to be very on a soul level, then yes. It's deeply misleading to be saying those things to somebody, and also seeing somebody else like you're either lying. Or you have this problem of feeling deep soul connections with everybody you meet. So what it which which is going to be 


Eden Dawn  23:29  

and how are you functioning? If you're just in love with everyone? Fine. Yeah, that part is, I see what you're saying. Because there is the casual dating. We were like, We're going to the movies. We have fun. We hang out sometimes. And then there's different between like looking somebody in the eyes and saying like, I’ve never met anyone 

like you. 


Juhea Kim  23:53  

Oh, I have heard so many declarations of deep soul connection. I mean, this guy said, I would be happy to just marry you and have children with you like that. Okay. Yeah, yeah, like okay, yes.


Fiona McCann  24:01  

So you've gone too far. You can't be seen other people when you're doing that. I'm just saying Right? Or don't say that shit. Don't say it. Don't say


Juhea Kim  24:08  

yeah. So um, at that moment, I realized that you know, this person, obviously very ambitious, materialistic, because that's path that he pursues, also found a woman that he felt was a better partner to him, probably because she was more successful in the worldly sense. And so I decided that I'm going to show him that I'm gonna write a book and become famous. And I am going to write his name in the acknowledgement, so that he will know just exactly how satisfying it is.


Eden Dawn  24:46  

You wrote a book motivated in part by spite, and I've never loved anything more because to be honest, I feel like probably most of my life decisions have been made based on an ex telling me that I couldn't do something. What a better motivation for any of us


Juhea Kim  25:00  

Eden, you too? Oh my god.


Eden Dawn  25:02  

I'm telling you I feel like most of my career is yes, I could list out the very first job I took when I became fashion editor at Portland Monthly, the man I was dating at the time said, “I don't think you should do itm sounds like a lot of work. Sounds like it probably wouldn't be that much money. I don't think it's a good idea.”


Fiona McCann  25:25  

What was the implication that it would be a little bit too much for you?


Eden Dawn  25:29  

I think he didn't see the value in it. Where I was like, this is journalism.


Juhea Kim  25:36  

What else did he want you to do with your life?


Eden Dawn  25:38  

I don't know. I don't know. I think I will say before we broke up he I feel like admitted he was wrong on that level. But every man up until my husband was upset at my ambition level, I think. And then ironically, I was a person who does not believe in love at first sight. I didn't think that happened. I was like, No, you get to know people, you develop friendship. And then I was backstage at my friends were playing a show with the Crystal Ballroom it was before him and ominous show. And a man walked in to the dressing room, and was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen in my life. And I remember every single thing he was wearing. And now I am married to that man. And this year is our 10 year anniversary of being together after I literally was like love at first sight does not exist. And we walked into a room and electricity pulsed. It exists, it exists. Unfortunately, I was still dating someone else. And that was inconvenient to fall in love at first sight when you are in another relationship. I did not know that could happen. 


Fiona McCann  26:47  

But you didn’t string the other person along and say like, Hey, new man, I want to marry you. But I'm also going to keep this other person going forever and ever. 


Eden Dawn  26:55  

No, that's true. It all worked out as it should be. But it is funny. It is funny how I feel like I went the other way of not believing in it. And then it existed. But I think that spite, which sounds like a petty emotion, and maybe is I don't care, I think spite is a wonderful motivator. Because it burns within you. And you're like, I'm gonna do this. And it isn't just about them. It's about yourself, right? You're like, I'm gonna do this for me. This person thinks I can't do something. I'm gonna do it.


Fiona McCann  27:25  

And you did it. That’s the amazing thing. 


Eden Dawn  27:29  

And you put his name in the acknowledgments? Oh, yeah. First and Last Name. 


Juhea Kim: 

I did.


Fiona McCann  27:34  

I mean, I have them here. I'm not going to read them out. I did find like, you're a brilliant Well, what not only did you like write a book, but you wrote an incredible book. I mean, I feel like I've had the fantasy where I'm like, I'm gonna write something amazing. And I'm gonna be award winning. And then like, I squeezed out an article and that was about it. My revenge fantasies have not come to fruition. This was knocking it out of the park. Did you have a sense that you were like, and then he will? Like I keep imagining this scene where he's like, walking along a New York street with his girlfriend or wife or whatever. I've decided hedge funder. Yeah, some, you know, and they're obviously dressed very expensively, because that's the path they've chosen. But then he does a double take because he passes a bookstore. And there's this huge picture of you


Eden Dawn  28:23  

maybe a life size cutout


Fiona McCann  28:24  

life size cutout with a line of people waiting to buy your book


Eden Dawn  28:30  

with trembling hands.


Juhea Kim  28:31  

Oh, Fiona! Eden! You guys are indulging me too much. I haven't had this type of fantasy. Because once the book was actually at that stage of pre publication where they were asking me Hey, can you give us acknowledgments? Can you check the copy edits and all that stuff? By that point, my life had already progressed beyond needing to seek revenge upon him. He did DM me on Instagram,


Fiona McCann  29:00  

slid on in he slid on it. 


Eden Dawn 29:03  

After the book came out. 


Juhea Kim  29:04  

It was before it was in fact, before I even sold it. So unfortunately, I wasn't able to brag about that. But he DM to me and said, Hey, are you in Portland now? And I looked at the handle, which was think something I think


Fiona McCann  29:20  

that's all we'll say. That's all well,


Juhea Kim  29:23  

and I thought this seems like him but I don't know. And I said who are you? And he was like


Eden Dawn  29:29  

you didn't, you who ared him?


Juhea Kim  29:32  

Of course I have to show that I didn't think about you at all.


Fiona McCann  29:36  

Yeah, there's so many in my DMs


Eden Dawn  29:39  

you are Stone Cold Fox and I love it so much. 


Juhea Kim  29:43  

And then he made the mistake of clarifying who he was because I went on this tirade of like my recent accomplishments. 


Eden Dawn  29:54  

Did you send  him your LinkedIn profile? 


Juhea Kim  29:57  

You know, that would have been easier but I did it list I did a hearty list. And one thing that I do remember not doing was saying I am with somebody who's richer than you. Although, I mean, I just can't use my partner for those purposes of seeking revenge upon my exes. 


Fiona McCann: 

That's very honorable. 


Juhea Kim: 

I have class


Fiona McCann  30:19  

you have class, that was restrained of you.


Eden Dawn  30:21  

it was. What did he say? Back?


Juhea Kim  30:23  

I saw that he saw my message. But he didn't say anything back, which is fine. I mean, thank God for Instagram, because on your iPhone, I messages let you to block that read receipt. But en DM there is no such thing. And God, Instagram. I love you for that. Yeah.


Fiona McCann  30:43  

He got the message. Yeah, he got the message. He got it. He was floored by your list of accomplishment 


Eden Dawn  30:49  

Just didn't even know what to do didn't know what to do with himself.


Juhea Kim  30:52  

Or you know, I bet. I don't know if he was amazed by how successful I was. But I think he was amazed by how much rancor I still had in my heart. He probably thought, Well, that's all in the past. Like, I can reach out to you as a friend or whatever. But I'm like, No, there's no whatever in my life.


Fiona McCann  31:09  

No. Love bomber. Yeah, you don't get that. Yeah, he might just start it again. If you hadn't put the brakes on him. I think this was wise.


Juhea Kim  31:17  

But privately though, my need to show myself to people who have rejected me in the past. And it's just, it's not just that one person. It's a lot of people, right, like people that I worked for  in publishing for example, I mean, they really trampled on me, and broke my spirit in half. And I had this will to show them how far I can go in life. But once you pass them, and I, I believe I don't care how much money he has in his bank account. I've passed him, yeah, no, I'm the person with the book that's all around the world. Right? And you know,


Fiona McCann  31:52  

We're not having him on our podcast are we?


Juhea Kim  31:55  

Exactly. And he's a quite a traveler. And I know that this book is all over the airport. So if he flies ever again, like he'll see it in the airports, but it's also being turned into a series. 


Fiona McCann: 

This just gets better and better.


Juhea Kim: 

 I feel like with the series and the book, it's gonna be a little harder for him to escap my renown. It's all it's all fine. You know, it's just the cherry on top. Not that I'm doing it for anybody at this point,


Eden Dawn  32:28  

of course, but it's okay for it to just feel good. That's, that's reasonable. We feel good for you. I have a question. Do you feel like you were lacking ambition at the time? And that this motive? Is this the thing that gave you ambition? Or do you think you already had ambition, you just hadn't been able to find the methods to channel it yet.


Juhea Kim  32:50  

You know, it takes so much overcoming of people telling you, you can't do it, to say I'm gonna do it. I saw a lot of people in college who felt entitled to take creative writing classes, and felt confident enough that they could say I, after I graduated, I'm going to do an MFA program. I continue to say this for people with less privilege. In order for you to even conceive of yourself as a working artist in your early 20s, it means you're coming from a privileged background. If you're an immigrant as I was, all you want to do is just start, like, start working for a company at an entry level position and make salary and health insurance. You don't think “I'm entitled to go to an MFA!” What if that doesn't work out who's going to pay for the MFA tuition? That confidence was really not in me. So if this guy hadn't kicked my butt, then I might not have said I really, really want to write a book. So he did play a really important role in getting my literary career off the ground. However, I do have to say, I had the materials. And this person gave me the reason to use it.


Fiona McCann  34:10  

Yeah, that makes sense.


Eden Dawn  34:11  

Okay, so maybe we're not casting the villain story, but it is the origin story. It's your origin story in a way and he's like, villain, light diet villain. He's a diet villain.


Fiona McCann  34:27  

Villain, zero,


Eden Dawn:  34:28  

fat free villain.


Fiona McCann  34:30  

I mean, also, you know, as you said, this was a very intense and intimate experience of love, and you'll still categorize it as love and there is so much so much of this book is love story, right? There are there are several different love stories in it. And so not only I suppose was his motivation, was Did he motivate you to kind of get the book done but like, is there some of that in that those experiences of love no matter how terrible they are, they still have informed some of your characters’ experiences right?


Juhea Kim  35:01  

That's exactly right. He gave me a lot of life experience, honestly. And that needed to go somewhere. So I had to write that story.


Fiona McCann  35:09  

And you also have a character who talks about revenge at one point, I think he talks about the sweetness of like feeling revenge. Was that in part, you thinking because I can't wait till he picks up this book. 


Juhea Kim  35:19  

I wrote that line after that experience of responding to his DM because it honestly it felt like revenge was heroin shooting straight through my veins. I know that's a very dirty thing to be saying. I don't know if you want to scrap that. 


Fiona McCann: 

but you were high. 


Juhea Kim: 

I was so high and my whole but by the way, I've never done drugs. So I don't know what that feels like. But if I did, it would be vibrating, vibrating. You know, like, you feel like you're running on liquid gold. That's how I felt. 


Eden Dawn  35:48  

Now, here's the question. Do we think diet villain has read the book? Do we know? And do we think.


Juhea Kim  35:57  

oh, I can't? No, I have no contact with him. I know, you guys Googled him?


Fiona McCann  36:02  

Yes, we did Google. I have to admit, the first thing 


Eden Dawn: 36:06  

I mean, I might have I might have


Juhea Kim  36:08  

also i. So I don't do that to myself. I know friends who look up their exes. I just don't. I mean, ever since I found that out about his, you know, lady friends who are the Korean lady friend. I refuse to look him up under any circumstances because I have too much pride.


Eden Dawn  36:25  

It also never ends well. I recently stumbled upon my high school boyfriend's Instagram, which only had like two photos. And I looked to see who he was following and his like top three, it was Donald Trump, Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson. So I was like, you know, what not gonna request, looks like we do not have anything in common. Of course, I sent a screenshot to my other friends from high school. And my my bestie Matt had the best line. He said, unfortunately, he does look good.


Fiona McCann  36:56  

I hate to tell you this, but


Eden Dawn  36:58  

Unfortunately, he does look good. And then we just walked away. Because why? What am I going to do? I don't want to strike up a conversation with you. You know, there's nothing to have there. So you're smart. We're allowed to Google on your behalf. And I'm telling you, he's read the book. It's possible. It's happened.


Fiona McCann  37:12  

He's definitely read it. He's definitely read it. And you know, what, if he did, he had a real treat, because it's amazing. It's a really great book. And even the diet villain could learn something from that book. So


Eden Dawn  37:25  

we all can, I love this. I love that. And also, I just love that you're willing to share this with us because I feel like it is a story that so many people can relate to.


Fiona McCann  37:36  

What I love about this story, most I think, and maybe this is just coming from my experience, I have dated a lot of musicians in my past, and then that one finance guy, disaster, disaster, terrible love bomb there. But the problem with the musicians is that I ended up in a lot of songs as a result. So I am like,


Eden Dawn  37:53  

then you're Fiona is a muse. 


Fiona McCann  37:57  

you want to be the writer, not the written about, that's the thing. And especially as a woman, I feel like you've really sort of turned that trope on its head. And I really salute you for it. It was a feminist move. And I love it.


Juhea Kim  38:09  

So I love that. And I want to say this to all the, you know, struggling artists, listeners, don't be intimidated by these people who, who only estimate your value based on your material possessions, or you know, even even your CV, like, who cares, hold your head up and continue creating and do it for you. And don't let it crush you. Because if I had let that crush me, then I don't know where I'd be. But I always thought, Well, I'm a queen. And he just said no to a queen. Well, that's just silly. 


Fiona McCann  38:47  

I want to channel that.


Eden Dawn  38:48  

I love that it's so sweet. And it's so true. And the other thing I always we say in our house a lot is ambition is sexy, doesn't even mean that everything has to turn out perfectly. But it's that you are trying, 


Juhea Kim  39:00  

you know  it's tough, because you didn't you mentioned earlier, that boyfriend who seemed to be threatened by your smarts and ambition. So it's like as women, we can't ever be just perfect. You're either too ambitious and too successful or you're not successful enough. And you know, the right person will let you be exactly the way you should be. I also want to say more to the extent that, you know, we talked about how journalism pays very little. And now Juhea  is very successful. Yay. But even though this is being turned into a series, that's not a life changing song. I mean, it can be depending on how successful the series is. If you are a commanding enough author that they build in a profit share into the contract, then, depending on how successful this series is, you can make a sizable money. But even then, it's not like, the money that a billionaire makes, or like a hedge funder makes or even like a very successful corporate lawyer makes. So I don't think any author does this for the money. Don't be hung up on the success and don't be thinking I'm going to sell tons of books. Even though I did write this book to seek revenge. I also didn't anticipate this to sell well I only wanted to write the best book that I ever could. I actually my personal goal for the sales of this book was 5000 copies, but it has 


Fiona McCann: 

I think you nailed it. 


Juhea Kim: 

So um, you know, I only wanted to do something that wasn't like absolutely shameful but I hope that you're not hung up on the money part because to me, even if everything goes away tomorrow and I don't have any money, no money coming in from royalties or series adaptation or whatever, I don't care because I put out something and that's not something anybody can take away from me. 


Fiona McCann  41:02  

It's funny that like you're motivated by this thing and they're like I don't even care about diet villain anymore like that's that's this took on its own life way beyond that motivating force and yeah, doesn’t even matter


Juhea Kim  41:16  

Yeah, doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. 


Fiona McCann  41:19  

You don't matter diet villain. Wow, do you hey, I could talk to you all day. Right? This it's brilliant. But I guess we should wrap up and I want to thank you again for coming into our studio and joining us and want to tell all our listeners that you can find Juhea at, or on Instagram at juhea_writers and I really do recommend that you pick up the extraordinary beast of a little land at a bookstore near you because the paperbacks are just just recently out so you can find it in hardback you can find it in paperback, but you can definitely find it and you should I highly recommend it. And that's it from We Can’t Print This for today you will find us Eden and I are at And don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram. The handle is @wecantprinttthis and tell all your friends to listen to us. Please


Eden Dawn  42:10  

Thank you to our producer Miranda Schaefer and to our friend Dave Depper. For our opening music. This podcast was recorded at the Writers' Block in downtown Portland, Oregon. Thank you to Monica Geller, for her support there and to our third work wife, Rachel Richie, who puts up with us having meetings in our office all day long.


Fiona McCann  42:27  

Thanks, Rachel. And if you've got a great behind the story story, and you want to be on this podcast, you should be so lucky. Just kidding. You can write to us at Thank you. Thanks 


FIona McCann: 

That was awesome!

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