Last updated on December 1st, 2023 at 08:00 am
With the delicious 미역국 / miyeok-guk (seaweed soup) and your loved one greeting you happy birthday in Korean, who wouldn’t want to celebrate their birthday 생일 (saeng-il)?
Knowing how to say Happy Birthday in Korean is not just the only thing you should know. Koreans have a unique way of celebrating birthdays which sets them apart from other cultures. Check the entire blog to learn Korean phrases and expressions related to birthdays. And if you check out language learning apps like Ling, you will be able to learn Korean much more efficiently.
How Do Koreans Say Happy Birthday?
Let’s break it down!
생 (saeng): birth
일 (il): day
축하하다: to congratulate (verb)
the verb 하다 (hada) which means “to do” next to 축하 (chugha) becomes 축하하다 (chukahada) “to congratulate.”
축하하다 (chukahada) becomes 축하해요 (chugha haeyo) when conjugating the verb to say that you are congratulating someone. The closest translation would be “congratulations.”
So, the meaning of this phrase would be close to, “congratulations on your birthday.”
Yes! It is not an exact translation, as we do not have the word “happy” in this Korean phrase. And using the word “happy” (행복-hengbok) in this phrase wouldn’t sound as natural.
If you would rather talk more politely, the most formal version of this phrase is:
생일 축하합니다 (saeng-il chugha-hab nida): It also means “congratulations on your birthday” and it is the most polite way to say Happy Birthday.
Different Phrases To Say Happy Birthday In Korean
Now that you have learned a little bit about Korean culture to celebrate birthdays, let us learn how to say Happy Birthday in Korean. Unlike in any other culture, Koreans have different ways to greet someone Happy Birthday in Korean. The age of the people really matters if you want to greet them. Try learning these words and phrases, including their pronunciation.
1. 생일 축하합니다 (saeng-il chugha-habnida)
You can never go wrong in a formal way of communicating with people. If you are in a formal situation and you want to wish someone who is older than you a happy birthday in Korean, you can say, 생일 축하합니다 (saeng-il chugha-habnida).
As explained before, this is a formal and respectful way to say Happy Birthday in Korean. Use it with people you aren’t close with or with your professor or boss.
2. 생일 축하드려요 (saeng-il chugha-deulyeoyo)
If you want a more formal way to greet someone Happy Birthday in Korean, you can say 생일 축하 드려요 (saeng-il chugha-deulyeoyo).
Remember, you would only use it with those you are not close with. This is used to express huge respect for them.
3. 생신 축하드립니다 (saeng-sin chugha-deulibnida)
If you want to greet someone much older than you, like your grandparents, say 생신 축하드립니다 (saeng-sin chugha-deulibnida).
Grandparents are really valued in Korean culture. That is why you should always keep this in mind. Serving food and drinks when it’s their birthday is a tradition. Greeting them Happy Birthday in Korean won’t suffice. It needs to be felt.
4. 생신 축하드려요(saeng-sin chugha-deulyeoyo)
This greeting is used to greet a person who is considered “higher status”. This is an honorific way to greet someone Happy Birthday in Korean.
5. 생일 축하해 (saeng-il chugha-hae)
Do you have a Korean friend that will celebrate his or her birthday? If you are wondering what is the casual way to say happy birthday in Korean, you can use this phrase: 생일 축하해 (saeng-il chugha-hae).
Remember to only use this version of Happy Birthday in Korean for your close friends and not those you are not close with. It won’t be polite for them!
6. 생일 축하해요 (saeng-il chugha-haeyo)
It is essential to be polite. This is a sign of being respectful to the person you are greeting, especially if they are older than you. You can never go wrong with the polite way of saying things. To greet a person Happy Birthday in Korean politely and respectfully, you can say 생일 축하해요 (saeng il chuk-ha hae yo).
There are many ways to say Happy Birthday in Korean. Always remember, there is a huge difference between a formal Happy Birthday and a casual/informal Happy Birthday. Koreans are very familiar with honorifics and politeness.
So, if you are planning to go to Korea, do not forget these points. Learning Korean phrases for birthdays is not that hard. So go, and practice it now!
How To Wish Someone Happy Birthday In Korean? 3 Phrases!
Do you remember the scene when Yoon Se-ri in Crash Landing on You was surprised by the North Korean Soldiers during her birthday? She taught them to wish before blowing out the candles on her birthday cake.
From that scene, you can see how different North and South Korea is in saying Happy Birthday in Korean. Most of all, you will see from that scene how a simple birthday greeting from the people you value can make you feel so touched.
Many believe in the tradition of making wishes. Before we blow candles, we say our birthday wishes on our own. Our friends and family also say their birthday wishes too. Greeting someone Happy Birthday in Korean is usually followed by a birthday wish.
Celebrating a birthday in Korean culture symbolizes being grateful for another year of life that is given to them. So, if you are wondering how to wish someone during their birthday in Korean, try learning these phrases.
1. 생일 축하해, 친구야. 원하는 건 전부 다 얻을 수 있길 바라!
Pronunciation: saeng-il chugha-hae, chinguya. wonhane-un geon jeonbu da eod-eul su itgil-bara!
English Translation: Happy birthday, my friend. Wish you can get everything you want!
2. 생일 축하해요!! 당신을 축복하시길 신께 기도합니다! 즐거운 하루 되세요!
Pronunciation: saeng-il chugha-haeyo!! dangsin-eul chugbog-hasigil sin-kke gido-habnida! jeulgeo-un halu doeseyo!
English Translation: Happy Birthday!! I pray to God to bless you! Enjoy your day!
3. 앞으로 더 건강하고 번창하시길 바랍니다. 생일 축하합니다!
Pronunciation: ap-eulo deo geongang-hago beonchang-hasigil balab-nida. saeng-il chugha-hapnida!
English Translation: I wish you a healthy and prosperous life in the future. Happy Birthday
What Is The Korean Song For Happy Birthday?
Try recalling your birthdays when you are younger when all your friends and family gather around you while singing a Happy Birthday song for you.
Birthdays are not complete without singing the birthday song. This is usually done before blowing the cake and making a wish. For most of us, this is one of the happiest parts of a birthday party or celebration.
Now that you have learned how to say Happy Birthday in Korean, you should also learn how to sing the birthday song in Korean.
사랑하는 (insert name) 씨
salang-haneun (insert name) ssi
Greeting somebody Happy Birthday in Korean will make that person realize that you actually think of them on their special day.
Singing a Happy Birthday song is a part of their beautiful culture which involves both intimacy and fun.
How To Count Age In Korean?
Did you know that Koreans age together on the 1st of January? This is an old Chinese tradition that Koreans still practice nowadays.
They have a unique way of counting their age. Although Koreans can celebrate their birthday on their actual date of birth, they aren’t considered to age that day. But, they still greet each other Happy Birthday in Korean.
Birthdays are special events in Korean culture. In fact, the biggest celebration of all is a child’s first birthday. Koreans also celebrate two (2) big years, and that is when people turn 60 at 70.
To celebrate this, their kids prepare a very festive party and invite friends and families to celebrate. This may include lots of food and other exciting adventures.
What Food Do Korean People Eat On Birthdays?
Of course, birthdays are not complete without any food. Koreans have special food that they eat and prepare for their birthdays.
1. 떡국(tteok-guk) – Rice Cake Soup
One of the most important birthday dishes in Korean is 떡국 (tteok-guk) or Rice Cake Soup. Koreans eat this on the morning of January 1st to celebrate getting a year older.
It has sliced rice cakes, meat boiled in a bone broth, and egg. But wait, there are more. People say 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae bog manhi bad-euseyo) which means “I wish for you to have a lot of luck in the new year.”
2. 미역국 (miyeok-guk) or Seaweed Soup
In Korean Drama, remember how Dong-ryong in Reply 1988 badly wanted her mom’s special 미역국 (miyeok-guk) or Seaweed Soup on his birthday? This is because it is extraordinary for them to eat it on their actual date of birth.
Their mothers traditionally cook it, and the chopped seaweed, a meat of choice, and a little sesame oil are the ingredients that make it special.
3. 케이크 (keikeu) – Cake
Of course, what’s a birthday in Korean without any birthday cakes? Koreans also celebrate birthdays with cakes. They use candles to indicate their age. Long candles are meant for the first digit of their age, and short candles are for the last digit.
Korean people also use fruits to decorate their cakes. What’s exciting about their cakes is that they have green tea and sweet potato-flavored cakes.
By the way! If you are in Korea and want to order a cake at a bakery or coffee shop, remember to pronounce “keikeu” and not in English, because they will find it hard to understand. That’s right, pronounce that “u” at the end and they will know exactly what you want to order.
Before you learn how to say Happy Birthday in Korean, you must also learn about the birthday gift-giving traditions of Koreans.
Did you know that Koreans do not usually hold big parties for children? When they turn older, they start to hold parties and have drinks with their friends at the bar. If you are invited to a birthday, you may bring typical gifts and cakes. Elders would prefer it to receive cash for practical reasons.
Koreans also have this thing called 상부상조 (sang bu-sang-jo), which means helping each other with the intention of giving back. This is more meaningful than any other material gift. This symbolizes true friendship. After all, they are not very particular about the gift. Just like what they say, it the thought that counts.
Another fantastic thing about the Koreans that is interesting to know aside from saying Happy Birthday in Korean is the birthday hit. In Korean, they call it 생일빵 (saeng-il-ppang) where they are allowed to hit the birthday celebrant for luck. Younger generations usually do this.
Do You Want To Be Good In The Korean Language? Learning How To Say Happy Birthday Isn’t Enough!
If you want to learn Korean, you must learn more than just Happy Birthday in Korean. You can also check out different blog posts related to the Korean language like Basic Korean Phrases, Greetings in Korean, and even Romantic words and phrases. But because you have reached this far on how to say Happy Birthday in Korean, we will treat you even if it is not your birthday yet. Go to the Ling app and start learning the first 2 units of Korean for free!
With the Ling app, you will learn not just how to say happy birthday in Korean, but also a lot of different words and phrases that will help you speak Korean with the locals without feeling anxious or scared. Don’t wait any longer. Start learning the Korean language now!