How To Nail Saying Cheers In Korean? Discover 5 Epic Ways

Cheers in Korean

Soju (소주) and Makgeolli (막걸리). Have a taste of Korean culture through these drinks. What’s more interesting is learning to say Cheers in Korean (건배 | geonbae). Drinking has always been in Korean culture. Traditionally, they drink during important holidays and celebrations like Korean New Year, Farming, Daeboreum, and Dano. But, because of modernization and developments in society, Koreans consume alcohol even if there’s no occasion.

There are different ways to say cheers in Korean language, which you will learn in this blog. In addition, you will also learn a bit of Korean drinking etiquette and other words and phrases in Korean related to drinking. So if you want to have drinks with your friends in Korea, keep on reading this blog. Of course, it is not enough to learn only how to say cheers in Korean but, you also have learned other basic Korean phrases to bond and communicate with other people. With this, Ling App can be your study partner.


Korean Drinking Etiquette

Korean Drinking Etiquette

If you think that Korean alcoholic beverages are the most interesting thing about having drinks, you’re wrong. It’s Korean drinking etiquette. The drinking etiquette of Koreans is clearly shown in any place where they are having drinks. You’ll be amazed because no matter old or young, they practice this etiquette. Koreans are very culture-oriented people. This is the reason why you have to learn these etiquettes not just to make it easier for you but also to respect the Korean culture. So, here’s a quick glimpse to Korean drinking etiquette:

  1. Seniors will be the ones to pour the first shots.
  2. Pour drinks for all except yours.
  3. Use both hands in pouring drinks.
  4. When having drinks with someone older than you, make sure that their glass is always full.
  5. Face away and cover your mouth when you are drinking with someone older than you or someone with higher ranks.
  6. When saying cheers, younger ones should lower their glass.
  7. Empty your glass in one shot.
  8. Don’t pour drinks if it is still half-filled.
  9. Know your limits.
  10. Drink in moderation.


Why Do We Say Cheers?

Saying cheers has always been a part of almost all of the drinking cultures from around the world. There are many ways to say cheers in different languages that you can hear when traveling around the world. In Japanese, they say 乾杯 | Kanpai, 干杯 (gānbēi) for Chinese Mandarin, 乾杯 (gon 1 bui 1!) in Chinese Cantonese, and ជល់មួយ (choul mouy) for Khmer. But, what’s the essence and the context of saying cheers and clinking glasses?

Saying cheers is usually done when there is special occasions or gatherings. It is an expression of oneness. Others believe that by saying cheers and clinking glasses, we make the experience whole because we use all the senses, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hear. Whatever the reason is, we can’t deny that saying cheers is a significant factor in having drinks with your friends and the people important to you.


What’s The Korean Word For Drinks?

What's The Korean Word For Drinks?

마실 것 Masil Geot

Let’s start to learn how to say “drink or beverage” in Korean. 마실 것 (masil geot) is the word to use when saying “drinks or beverage” in Korean. It is rare to see one where they don’t drink if you watch Korean dramas and movies. This is the reason why Korean alcoholic beverages are really popular in Asian countries like the Philippines. There are many famous alcoholic beverages that South Korea is famous for. Below are some of those:

Alcoholic Drinks 

소주 Soju
복분자 Bokbunja
매실주  Maeshilju
막걸리 Makgeolli
동동주 Dongdongju
산사춘 Sansachun
청주 Cheongju
백세주 Baekseju
꽃 와인 Flower Wine
칵테일 Cocktails
맥주 Beer


How To Say Cheers In Korean?

How To Say Cheers In Korean? Geonbae 건배

Now that we have learned about the drinking culture and some Korean terms for alcoholic beverages. Let us now go to our main topic for this blog – toasting and saying cheers in Korean. You might have heard some of these words in their movies and dramas, so I think it will be easier for you. Learn these phrases below if you want to have a nice and fun night while drinking with your friends in Korea.

건배 (Geonbae)

English Translation: Empty glass / Bottom’s up

The first way to say cheers in Korea that you should learn is 건배 (Geonbae). This phrase means ’empty glass.’ If you want to learn Korean, this is the easiest way to go. This is done by raising and clinking glasses. It can be used in both formal and informal situations. Remember that in Korea, they strictly follow levels of politeness, so make sure to be mindful of whom you talk to.

The expression “Bottom’s up” might be familiar to you because it is also used in many other countries. Koreans also say this because emptying a shot glass is a must in their etiquette. If the other person said 건배 (geonbae), you could also say 건배 (geonbae) in return.

건배할까요? (Geonbaehalkkayo)

You can also say 건배할까요? (Geonbaehalkkayo?) if you want to ask permission to propose a toast. It means, “Can I make a toast?”. This way, you’ll get the attention of the people around you and focus on what or whom you are toasting for.

위하여 (Wihayeo)

English Translation: For the sake of

Having drinks with business people or coworkers? Then the phrase that suits your situation well is 위하여 (Wihayeo). It has the same meaning as 건배 (Geonbae), but business people usually use this phrase after delivering a long speech.

원샷! (Wonsyat)

English Translation: One-shot.

The phrase 원샷! (Wonsyat) is probably the most familiar way of saying cheers in Korean to you. The reason behind this is because it sounds like its English translation which is “One-shot.” If you want to be casual, this is the phrase to go.

Saying one-shot literally means “finish the glass at one shot only.” If you are used to drinking, this is easy for you. Although it’s a must to empty the glass in one shot, if you can’t hold your liquor, you don’t have to do it.

우리의 건강을 위하여 건배 (Uriui Geongangeul Wihayeo Geonbae)

English: To our health, Cheers

The last way to say cheers in Korean that we will learn is 우리의 건강을 위하여 건배 (uriui geongangeul wihayeo geonbae). This is very timely nowadays since we are experiencing a pandemic and other health issues. So toasting for good health is usually done on birthdays and new year to ask for another healthy year of life.



Korean Words And Phrases Related To Drinks

Soju Korean drink

Now that you have learned how to say cheers in Korean, here are some additional phrases that you can add to your vocabulary. Enriching your vocabulary will help you speak in Korean well. This way, you will be able to at least talk to locals even through simple words. So practice these words and phrases and their pronunciation.


Romanization English Translation
ba bar
물 컵 mul keop drinking glass
음주 게임 eumju geim drinking game
일차 ilcha first round
이차 icha second round
삼차 samcha third round


Romanization English Translation
주량 julyang drinking capacity, drinking limit
-마시다 masida to drink
술 한잔 기울이다 sul hanjan giul-ida to drink liquor
술을 잘 마시다 suleuljalmasinda can drink a lot (of alchohol)
한 잔하다 han janhada to have a drink together (lit. to have a glass of something)


Romanization English Translation
절주하기 jeoljjuhagi Drink less.
마시고 싶어 masigo sipeo I want to eat/drink. (intimate)
맥주 좋아하세요? Maekju joahaseyo? Do you like beer?
어떤 맥주 종류를 가장 좋아하세요? Eotteon maekju jongnyureul gajang joahaseyo? What is your favorite kind of beer?


Do You Want To Learn Korean Words And Phrases Easily?

Don’t stop learning how to say cheers in Korean. There’s so much to learn that you can use in watching Korean dramas and movies, listening to K-pop music, and most of all, communicating with the locals in Korean. Korean culture is very rich, and it is well-tied to their language as well. But, how can you learn Korean if the pandemic limits us? How can you learn Korean if you don’t have an extra budget to hire a tutor or enroll in a class? The answer is pretty simple – use Ling App.

Learning Korean with Ling App can make you change your own views toward learning languages. We always thought that learning new languages is daunting, challenging, and even frustrating. With Ling App, you can learn languages like playing a game. Every time you make mistakes, there’s always a chance of redemption. There’s always a chance, go back and learn from your mistake. Ling App uses gamification to make learning fun and engaging.

Do you want to sound like a native Korean speaker? Worry no more because Ling App has audio recordings from native speakers to ensure the accuracy and the quality of learning you’ll experience. In addition, blog posts are also available to widen your knowledge of the Korean language and its culture.

Raise your glass and say cheers 건배 (Geonbae) because this one is to wish you Good Luck in your language learning journey you’re about to take with Ling App. So start your free lessons now!


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