Korean Suseok


(Korean Viewing Stones)


Kyungseok (Natural scenery stones). Kyung means natural scenery and seok means stone. Stones in this category suggest natural landscape scenes.

- San-kyungseok (Mountain view stones). San means mount or mountain. Stones in this classification are further divided by two sub-classifications; number of peaks or viewing distance.

   -- Danbong-sanseok (Single peak mountain stone). Resemble a single mountain peak.

   -- Ssangbong-sanseok (Double peak mountain stone). Mountain with two peaks or two separate mountains.

   -- Yunsanseok (Mountain range stone). Three or more mountain peaks representing a mountain range.

   -- Wonsanseok (Distant mountain view). Won means distant, so this would be a mountain as seen from a great distance. Usually very dark in color.

   -- Keunsanseok (Close mountain view). Since keun means close, such a stone would be a close view of a mountain. Relatively light color compared to wonsanseok.

- Do-kyunseok (Sumhyungseok) (Island shape stone). Do and sum both mean island. Stones in this category resemble islands.

- Hosooseok (Lake stone). Hosoo means lake. These stones have relatively large depression in the stone surrounded by large scale scenery. There are two sub-classifications of these stones.

   -- Dhamhyungseok (Pond shaped stone). Dham means small pond. These stones have a relatively small depression surrounded with small scale scenery.

   -- Ongdalsaem (Spring stone). Resembles small spring found around mountainside.

- Pyunwonseok (Plain stone). Stones that resemble the flat plains with a mountain or hill on the far side of the view.

- Danseok (Step stone). Dan means step. These type stones usually have two or more flat steps.

- Topaseok (Step stone). Topa means a small plain close to a mountain. These type stones usually have a complex view of mountains on one side and a small plain on the other.

- Pokposeok (Waterfall stone). Pokpo means waterfall. These stones resemble mountains or hills with waterfalls. The waterfalls are usually inclusions of white crystal or limestone.

- Bawikyungseok (Rock scenery stone). Since bawi means rock and kyung means scenery, these stones usually look like rocks on a mountain or at the ocean.

- Jiphyungseok (House or hut shaped stone). Jip means house, usually of a rustic type. These stones are classified as natural scenery because traditional houses blended in with nature and are considered to be part of it.

- Kwantongseok (Tunnel stone). Kwantong means tunnel. Usually a stone with one or more tunnels in it as major viewing points.

- Cheomahyungseok (Shelter stone). Cheoma means shelter. These type stones have an overhang or shelter as a major viewing point.

- Dongkool-hyungseok (Cave stone). Dongkool means cave. Such stones have a cave as a major viewing point.

- Hyungsangseok. Hyungsan means shape of an object. Stones in this group generally resemble living creatures such as humans and animals. The two sub-categories are:

   -- Inmoolhyungseok (Human object shaped stone). Inmool means human object. Such stones resemble humans.

   -- Dongmoolhyungseok (Animal shaped stone). Dongmool means animal. Such stones resemble various types or mythical, extinct or living animals.

- Mooniseok. Mooni means design, painting or pattern on the surface of the stone. This type of suseok is subdivided into the following subcategories:

   -- Hwamoonseok (Flower-pattern stone). Hwamoon means flower-pattern. This kind of suseok has a flower-pattern embedded in its surface.

   -- Moonjaseok (Character-pattern stone). Moonja means character or letter. This type stone has Korean or Chinese characters (calligraphy) on the surface.

- Choosangseok. (Abstract stone). Choosang means abstract. This is a type of stone that can be an abstract representation without resembling any particular object.

- Goeseok. Goe means curious or grotesque. Goeseok are similar to the original Chinese Scholar stones, usually vertical rather than horizontal and having perforations, creases and furrows covering their surface.


- Hachunseok (Kaangdol). (River stone). Hachun and kaang both mean river. This is the name given to stones found in and around rivers.

- Haeseok (Badadol). (Sea stone). Both hae and bada mean sea. These stones are found on the beach or seaside. Shapes of haeseoks are usually simple, and many of them will be classified as choosanseok or mooniseok.

- Sanseok. (Mountain stone). San means mountain. Stones found on mountains or in mountain valleys are called sanseok.


- Zayunseok. Zayun is nature or natural condition. Stones that are not artificially modified can be classified as zayunseok. In a sense of Naturalism that exists in Korean culture, these are the only stones that qualify as suseoks.

- Gagongseok. Gagong means artificial addition or modification, such as cutting the bottom of the stone or surface grinding to better show flower-patterned inclusions. These stones are not considered true suseok in Korean suseok culture. However, hwamoonseok (flower-patterned stones) are still appreciated for their beauty and are called miseok (beautiful stone).


- Googapseok. (Turtle-back stone). Googap means turtle-back. These stones have inclusions of white lines covering the surface with regular intervals between the lines. This type stone is rare and highly regarded in Korea because the turtle is regarded as being lucky.

- Golseok (Piadol). Gol and pia both mean bone. These are stones that resemble animal bones.

- Baekupzildol. Bae is oriental pear and kupzil is surface is surface or skin. This type stone has a surface that resembles the skin of the oriental pear.

- Youngseok. Young means an oriental dragon. These stones were originally found on the ground of a mountain valley or on the surface of the seaside. Now they have to be dug up. Mineral composition of most youngseok is limestone. It is believed that such stones are called youngseok because of the extreme variability of the stone.

- Pibudol. Pibu means skin or surface. Pibudol has a very special surface that can be a major viewing point.


- Myungseok. This means masterpiece. If everybody who sees a particular stone gets a strong feeling from it, that stone may be a myungseok. According to Dr. Lee, "viewers have to feel a kind of philosophy from the stone.... Korean collectors used to say 'Ilsaeng ilseok' [one life, one stone] - only one masterpiece stone can be found along a collector's life span."

- Kaseok. Ka means beauty or high quality. When someone sees a stone and considers it to be a very good stone, it can be a kaseok.

- Suseok. This is a stone that meets one or more of the qualities of a Korean viewing stone.


- Sopumseok. Sopum means small material. Sopumseok are small stones of less than 15 cm in size.

- Pyozunseok. Pyozun means standard material. These are stones between 15 and 45 cm in size.

- Daepumseok. Daepum means large material. Daepumseok are large stones over 45 cm in size.

- Zungwonseok. Zungwon means garden. These are stones larger than a normal man can easily carry with both hands.


Lee, Dr. Byung Ju, Article to Marco Favero. Most of this material was extracted from the article on Marco's site and revised into a concise classification.

Hayes, James, Waiting To Be Discovered, The Newsletter of the North American Viewing Stone Society, 1996-1999

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