Nunchi is a concept of situational awareness that is taught in Korean schools. It’s considered as the art of intuiting the emotions of others.
The term ‘Nunchi’ literally means “eye-measure” or “visual measure”, which refer to the ability to see what others can’t. This concept gained popularity with books like "The Power of Nunchi: The Korean Secret to Happiness and Success" by Euny Hong.
People use nunchi in their day-to-day life. While sensing which is the fastest line at the supermarket, while seeing if someone on the bus needs help and even while estimating that your partner is going to give you good news.
According to a British news source, Koreans don’t emphasis on having good nunchi, but fast nunchi. Korean children are taught about the importance of feeling connected with their environment at an early age.
Nunchi is taught in both schools and at home. If there is no janitor in school, the children are taught to share the tasks of cleaning, taking out the garbage and scrubbing toilets.
With this concept, children in Korea understand the nature of relationships and hierarchies within a group. They learn how to be situationally aware of the context and roles in real time.
Anyone who has a quick nunchi can better comprehend the changing social information around them. This concept makes them appear to be more competent and other people often like to be around them. This improves their social life and makes an individual happier in general.
Notably, there are some downsides to this concept of nunchi. While many people with quick nunchi enjoy a happier life, some with “Machiavellian” attitude may use it for personal benefits.
According to Euny Hong, nunchi can prove to be extremely beneficial for introverted people.
"In the west, autonomy and individualism are emphasized, and nunchi seems to advocate the opposite. But developing nunchi doesn't mean becoming a lemming, it just means you are using data to your advantage to create comfort for yourself and everybody else”, she said.