Parenting in South Korea

The ‘nunchi’, in a literal translation into Spanish would be «measure of the eye», is the Korean art of feeling what happens to other people or goes through their heads. Empathy is considered one of the greatest virtues in our day, but it has nothing to do with this Korean value, one of the basic pillars of a child’s education in South Korea. To do this, speed and emotional acuity is essential, since the sooner the mood of another person is identified, the more successful it is possible to respond or interact.

Those who have a quick ‘nunchi’ continually reevaluate their words, gestures or the way they show themselves to those present. South Korea, one of the most important powers in Asia and the world, is considered one of the countries with one of the most powerful and demanding educational systems with its students. In the classrooms, from very early on, a multitude of values ​​are instilled in their citizens to succeed in tomorrow.

In this way, their university entrance exams become a real ‘rally’ for those who want to get a dream place for their studies. In the traditional upbringing of a child in South Korea, in addition to warning about dangers such as looking both sides of the street before crossing, the ‘nunchi’ becomes one of its protagonists. This is instilled from the age of three, when a child is old enough, but not too young either. In this way, young children get tired of hearing phrases like «you have to have more nunchi.»

In this line, children do not choose to be good or bad, since they are not aware of the consequences of their actions. For this reason, it is when it is necessary to guide the little ones in this value. A clear example of how to apply the nunchi would be the following. In a queue at a buffet, a child complains that he is hungry, yelling «I’m very hungry!» A South Korean mother or father would not say anything like «poor thing!», In such a way that she would indicate to her son how people are waiting in line correctly.

Everyone, in a group, is divided and they are doing these and other tasks in which they rotate or take turns throughout the course. This teaches us several lessons about how South Korea has order and civility as one of its axioms in its culture. This is how in the classrooms the concept of «hive society» begins to forge little by little. The students begin to respect their environment as a group, learning from an early age to take care of it. Some may be born with more or less ‘nunchi’, but to achieve this many have to be pushed into it through the educational system itself, as well as in their own families. As if it were a true sixth sense, you learn to be patient and observe the environment. What to do, how to act and how to respond – without having to say a word – can be considered as one of the keys to success and happiness: you need to have «nunchi» as soon as possible.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on

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