The Power of Nunchi: The Korean Secret to Happiness and Success

Euny Hong. Penguin, $22 (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-313446-6
This deceptively simple yet profoundly wise guide from Hong (The Birth of Korean Cool) explores the 5,000-year-old Korean art of nunchi (“eye measure”) and provides lessons on the power of inference to build connections and improve relationships. For Hong, Sherlock Holmes and Tyrion Lannister have excellent nunchi—the ability to assess the energy in the room, deduce information based on context instead of words, and gain emotional intelligence. She explains how, at odds with the Western emphasis on individuality and noisiness, the rules of nunchi include that one should clear one’s mind of preconceptions, be silent and observe, infer what others are thinking rather than what they are saying, and try not to intentionally cause harm. Hong describes how to see wisdom in first impressions, gather data to prove or disprove those impressions, and learn to adapt to change. In a particularly illuminating chapter, she delineates her workplace tips, which include observing how people are greeted, making sure to find one’s boss in a room full of people, and gauging the politics in one’s office. This wonderful exploration of a nuanced Korean philosophy will appeal to any reader looking to hone skills of emotional perception. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/09/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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