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What do Koreans say when toasting?


Koreans have a rich and vibrant culture that is reflected in their traditions and customs. One of the most significant aspects of Korean culture is their drinking culture, where toasting plays a vital role. Toasting is an essential part of Korean etiquette, and it is customary to raise a glass and make a toast before drinking. In this article, we will explore the different phrases and expressions that Koreans use when toasting.

The History of Korean Toasting

Toasting is not a new tradition in Korea. It has been a part of Korean drinking culture for centuries. Historically, toasting was used to honor ancestors and pay homage to the gods. Over time, it became an integral part of social gatherings, and people began using it to express their gratitude and appreciation towards one another.

The Importance of Toasting in Korean Culture

In Korean culture, toasting is more than just raising a glass and drinking. It is a way of showing respect and appreciation towards others. When Koreans toast, they do it with sincerity and genuine warmth. Toasting is also an excellent way for Koreans to build relationships, as it allows people to bond over shared experiences.

The Different Phrases Used When Toasting

There are several different phrases that Koreans use when toasting. The most common phrase is “건배” (geonbae), which means “to your health.” Other popular phrases include “화이팅” (hwaiting), which means “let’s go,” and “고운말 할 때 살아남는다” (gounmal hal ttae sar-anamneunda), which means “those who speak kind words live well.”

When to Use Different Phrases

The phrases used during a toast can vary depending on the occasion. For example, “건배” (geonbae) is the most common phrase used during a formal gathering, while “화이팅” (hwaiting) is used more in informal settings. “고운말 할 때 살아남는다” (gounmal hal ttae sar-anamneunda) is often used during business toasts.

The Significance of the Number of Drinks

In Korean culture, the number of drinks consumed during a toast can also hold significance. For example, three drinks are often consumed, with each drink representing different meanings: the first drink is for the giver, the second drink is for the receiver, and the third drink is for the relationship between them.

Who Toasts First?

In Korean culture, the eldest or highest-ranking person often initiates the first toast. It is also common for someone who has a significant announcement to make to lead the first toast.

The Etiquette of Toasting

There are several etiquette rules that one must follow when toasting in Korea. When making a toast, it is essential to hold your glass with both hands and make direct eye contact with the person you are toasting. It is also customary to make a small bow before taking a sip.

The Role of Food in Korean Toasting

Food plays an important role in Korean culture and is often served during drinking sessions. Koreans believe that food helps to absorb alcohol and prevent drunkenness. It is customary for people to share food and drink together during a toast.

The Different Types of Alcohol Consumed During a Toast

Koreans consume several different types of alcohol during a toast, including soju, makgeolli, and beer. Soju is a clear distilled liquor that is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea. Makgeolli is a traditional rice wine that is often served with Korean pancakes, while beer is a refreshing drink that is enjoyed by many.

The Role of Music in Korean Toasting

Music also plays a significant role in Korean drinking culture, and it is not uncommon for people to sing and dance during a toast. Koreans believe that music helps to create a festive atmosphere and bring people together.


In conclusion, toasting is an essential part of Korean culture and plays a significant role in building relationships and showing respect towards others. Koreans use different phrases when toasting, depending on the occasion, and follow several etiquette rules. Food, alcohol, and music also play significant roles in Korean drinking culture. By understanding the significance of toasting in Korea, one can gain a deeper appreciation for this unique and vibrant culture.

What do Koreans say when they clink glasses?

To cheers in Korea, the most basic phrase to learn is “Geonbae,” which translates to “empty glass.” This is traditionally done by raising and clinking glasses together, and is a simple way to start learning Korean language and culture.

How do you cheer someone up in Korean?

The term 힘내 (himne) translates to “cheer up” in English. It is often used by Korean people to motivate and lift the spirits of someone who appears sad or down. Saying 힘내 (himne) is a common practice among Koreans, especially when a person or a group is experiencing a difficult situation.

What is the cheering slogan in Korean?

The Korean expression “파이팅!” or “hwaiting” is commonly used to offer well-wishes or to boost team morale by saying “cheer up!”

How do Koreans exclaim?

The exclamation “헐 (heol)” is commonly used to convey feelings of surprise, shock, or amazement in both positive and negative situations. It can be translated to English as “what the…” or “OMG”.

What is Seoul toast?

Currently, it is extremely popular in South Korea! These silky smooth eggs are served with milk-fried toast and presented beautifully in a box. Without a doubt, they are incredibly tasty.

How do Koreans express annoyance?

Korean language has a word “짜증나다 (Jjajeungnada)” which English language does not have. It is used to describe the feeling of being frustrated and irritated by someone. Another common Korean word that is used to express annoyance is “Ya 야”.

It is important to note that excessive drinking is not encouraged in Korean culture. While drinking and toasting are a part of social gatherings, it is important to drink responsibly and know one’s limits. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards a more moderate drinking culture in Korea.

Furthermore, toasting is not limited to just social gatherings or business meetings. It is also a common tradition during weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions. During these celebrations, toasting is often done by family members or close friends, and it is a way to express their love and well wishes to the person or couple being celebrated.

It is also worth noting that while the phrases used during a toast may differ depending on the occasion, the sentiment behind them remains the same. Koreans view toasting as a way to express gratitude, respect, and appreciation towards others. It is a way to strengthen relationships and create lasting bonds.

Overall, Korean toasting culture is a unique and significant aspect of Korean society. It reflects the importance of building strong relationships and showing respect towards others. By understanding and appreciating this tradition, one can gain a deeper appreciation for Korean culture as a whole.

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