The Korean Cultural Phenomenon Nunchi

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Visiting Scholar, School of Asian Studies
Affiliation: HSE University (National Research University “Higher School of Economics”)
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameProblemy Dalnego Vostoka
EditionIssue 5

This article examines the phenomenon of nunchi (being conscious of others’ or observing other people's state of mind, behavior, and situation) in Korean culture. Nunchi is different from Korean collectivism (We, affection) and Western European culture, where individualism is more important than the needs of society. In Korea nunchi is accepted as essential for forming a sense of solidarity in relations with people. Silence and observation are an important part of an individual's life and social interactions in Korean society. Observing the changes in the circumstances and the people around them in a group reveals the concerns of the Koreans for those close to them. The Koreans hide their opinions, do not speak directly, and tell white lies because they believe it is essential to avoid conflict with others. Korean politeness when they talk about their thoughts, either indirectly or with a hidden meaning, may raise questions from the Russians. In Korean society, it is necessary to keep an eye out. It is not a coincidence that the Westerns understood nunchi as a means of surviving in Korean society. However, the meaning of nunchi is not just a means to survive, but with the help of nunchi, Koreans try to predict other people's minds and understand their true desires in order to accurately understand and socialize with them. Nunchi is a basic Korean etiquette. It has deep historical roots and is closely related to collectivism.

KeywordsNunchi, Korean culture, collectivism, sympathy, we, confucianism
Publication date18.10.2021
Number of characters20075
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