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Korean
Suseok History


Korean appreciation for Suseok began around the time that such stones were first introduced from China with Taoism, between B.C. 100 to A.D. 1300. At this time Korea was known as "Kokurea"

Due to this Chinese influence, most prized and collected stones during this period were upright stones that contained perforations and grooves on their surface. This preference continued during the middle period of Korean history from 1300-1950.

Recent Suseok history has been deeply influenced by Japan. Additionally, cultural changes in Korea during this time caused collectors to turn from traditional stone preferences to more "subdued" stones such as those revered by the Japanese. Although there was a significant increase in Suseok collecting in Korea after the Korean war (1950-1953), the closing of many prime collecting areas in recent years has caused the number of collectors to again decrease. Dr. Byung Ju Lee estimates that there were about a million collectors in Korea only 5 years ago but this number is going down.

The major difference between Korean and Japanese stones is that Koreans do not allow any alteration to their Suseok. Japanese also minimize any alteration to their stones but they do allow a leveling cut on the bottom of the stone to facilitate display. Korean collectors prefer to retain the purity of their stones, and accommodate these uneven bottoms on their stones by displaying them in deep suban (ceramic containers filled with sand or water) or by carving the daezwa or zwadae (carved wood display stands) more deeply to hide more of the stone.

Korean wood stands are also distinct. They are often thinner and contain flowing lines that merge into the feet of the stand. This is perhaps a modern phenomenom.

There are several collecting sites in Korea that are especially well-known or famous with suseok collectors.

- Kyunghokaang. This river comes from a small stream that brings stones from Zirisan, a mountain famous for its suseok.

- Namhankaang. The Namhan river is the most important and famous collecting site in Korea. All shapes of stones can be found there. Many have good texture, and it is possible to find many shapes in a single stone. Most notable are stones with depressions, furrows, tunnels, arches and peaks.

- Seasides. Korean coastlines have many places where collecting suseok is possible. The southeastern coast of the Korean Peninsula is the most popular.

- Taewhakang. The Taewha river is notable for its green-colored stones.

- Yungkaang. The Yung river is another famous site.

- Zirisan. Ziri Mountain. A mountain famous for its suseok.



REFERENCE:

Lee, Dr. Byung Ju, Article to Marco Favero. Most of this material was extracted from the article on Marco's site.



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