Filed Under Fiction

Grains of Sand

A Screenplay

I chose to write a historical fiction screenplay based on an 1897 documented Korean Legal Case from WRONGFUL DEATHS: Selected Inquest Records from Nineteenth-Century Korea, published in 2014, edited and translated by Sun Joo Kim and Jungwon Kim. 

The case I chose to focus on occurred three years after the Kabo reforms in 1894, which included many changes to Korean law. Among the legal reforms were the abolition of slavery and permission for widows to remarry. One example of the Kabo reforms going too far and facing resistance was the cutting off of the top-knots, a male hairstyle that was a symbol of life gifted by parents to their children.

My work is also inspired by Korean lineage novels written about in Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea, Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday, by Ksenia Chizhova. Women had been writing lineage novels passed down through generations (mothers to daughters) to express emotions and tell their side of stories. These novels usually featured idealized yangban families (civil servants close to the top of the social and political hierarchy) who quickly faced moral challenges. The storylines of these novels exposed the tension between idealism, public appearances, and human reality.


Wrongful Deaths Cover Page Source: Creator: Sun Joo Kim Date: 2014


Grains of Sandpdf / 71.91 kBDownload


Carolina Buhler, “Grains of Sand,” UCLA Korean History and Culture Digital Museum, accessed July 12, 2024,