How to Say Cheers in Korean Like a Native? (3+ Best Ways)

Toasting a friend on an important life event, or simply raising a toast while you’re out with a coworker or friends

Either way, you’ll need to learn the do’s and don’t of saying cheers in Korean or you might regret it.

Truth is, Korean loves to drink, and Korean drinking traditions are totally insane

A toast can happen at various locations and events, from formal functions to social gatherings amongst friends. Both occasions require different toasts.

Here’s a complete guide on how to say cheers in Korean from formal functions to social gatherings amongst friends. 

We’ll also talk about types of Korean alcohol and Korean drinking Etiquette that you should know to make sure you’re raising your glass properly.

Alright world, let’s dive in(to the core)

How to say Cheers in Korean?

The word “cheers” can also mean “thanks in english.”

In Korea, 건배 (geonbae) most common way to say cheers in Korean which literally means “empty glass” similar to how we say bottom’s up in English. 

You can use this word with your boss, people older than you, coworkers, and even friends by raising and clinking glasses. 

However, if you are having drinks with business people or coworkers, you should use 위하여 (Wihayeo). It means “for the sake of.”

Don’t forget to learn basic Korean greetings such as “how to say hi,” how are you” and bye in korean” so you don’t confuse them while using them with friends or coworkers.

Here is how to say cheers in Korean language from formal functions to social gatherings and friends. 

  • 건배!(geonbae)-The formal/polite way
  • Wihayeo!위하여!
  • 원샷! (wonsyat)- bottoms up in Korean
  • 짠 (zzan!)in Korean – The casual/familiar way

Let me explain each one in detail.

건배!(geonbae)-The formal/polite way to say cheers in korean

cheers in Korean language

건배!(geonbae) is the most common way to say cheers in Korean which literally means “empty glass”.

This Korean word 건배  is very similar to the Korean word, 干杯(Ganbei), and the Japanese word, 乾杯 (Kanpai), which both mean “cheers.”

You can use it with your boss, older people, coworkers, friends, and so on by raising and clinking glasses. 

It can be used in both formal and informal situations.

How to use 

As you cheer by saying “geonbae,” it’s proper to raise your glass with your friends or colleagues. 

If you want to stay true to its meaning, drink your entire glass.

If somebody says 건배 (geonbae) to you, then the correct response is simply to greet them with the Korean phrase 건배 (geonbae) back to them.

Sample Sentences

May I propose a toast?

건배할까요? (geonbaehalkkayo)

To our health, bottoms up!

우리의 건강을 위하여 건배 (uriui geongangeul wihayeo geonbae)


Wihayeo!위하여!-how to say cheers in korean

위하여!(Wihayeo) literally means “for the sake of. 위하여 (wihayeo) is used in the same way as 건배 (geonbae), but it is mainly used by businessmen and coworkers, after delivering a long speech.

This is mostly used by older people. Hardly any younger people use this. 

You might have heard it. You can say“위하여” by itself while they raise their glass, or you can they add the words given below before 위하여.

  • To our health, bottoms up
  • 우리의 건강을 위하여 건배 
  •  Bottoms up, for the sake of the company
  • 회사를 위하여 
  •  Bottoms up, for the sake of our friendship
  • 우정을 위하여 
  •  Bottoms up, for world peace
  • 세계평화를 위하여.
  •  Bottoms up, for the sake of our health
  • 건강을 위하여.

원샷! (wonsyat)

원샷! (wonsyat)-how to say cheers in korean

원샷! (Wonsyat) is probably the most popular phrase for saying cheers in Korean which literally means that you have to drink your whole drink in one go. 

You might notice that sounds like its English translation which is “One-shot.”

The Korean word 원샷! (wonsyat)- is used for the heavy drinker who wants to slam their beer instead of sipping it. this phrase is really famous among young people and coworkers

If you are used to drinking, this is easy for you. if you can’t hold your liquor, please don’t do it because it has been known to cause bizzard drinking behaviour to people and headaches the next day!

cheers in korean informal –짠 (zzan!)

짠 (zzan!)-how to say cheers in korean

짠 (zzan!) is the most casual or slang way to say cheers in Korean language. You can use it with family members or close friends.

You will hear this frequently used among younger people.

So make sure not to use it with strangers and older people.

The difference between 건배 and 짠 (zzan!) is that you can use 건배 is only used with many people, like at a party, whereas 짠 (zzan!) is only used with a small number of groups.

Korean Vocabulary Words for Drinks and Cheers in Korean.

Here is a list of popular Korean Words And Phrases related to drinks in Korean used to celebrate happy occasions and festive days that you might encounter most of the time.

  • First round-일차 
  • Second round-이차 
  • Third round-삼차 
  • Beer-맥주 
  • alcohol-술 
  • Soju-소주 
  • Soju and beer mixed together-소맥 
  • bar-술집(sul-jib)
  • to drink-마시다(ma-shi-da)
  • snack/side dish-안주(an-ju)
  • wine-와인(wa-in)
  • drinking glass-물 컵 mul keop
  • drinking game-음주 게임 eumju geim
  • capacity, drinking limit-주량 julyang
  • to drink liquor-술 한잔 기울이다 sul hanjan giul-ida
  • can drink a lot (of alchohol)-술을 잘 마시다 suleuljalmasinda
  • to have a drink together-한 잔하다 han janhada
  • Drink less.-절주하기 jeoljjuhagi
  • I want to eat/drink-마시고 싶어 masigo sipeo
  • Do you like beer?-맥주 좋아하세요? Maekju joahaseyo?
  • What is your favorite kind of beer?-어떤 맥주 종류를 가장 좋아하세요?

Korea is known for its long-standing love affair with alcohol, The country offers a ton of delicious, flavorful alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and drinks special on festive days.

There are also about 200 different varieties of traditional teas, juices, and grain beverages.

The popularity of whiskey and their very own Soju and Makgeolli ( rice wine ) is known to every Korean since both are delicious and easy to remember. 

Since most of the beverage names are derived from English, pronunciation should not be a problem for English speakers.

Drink in Korean is 마실 것 (masil geot). Here is a list of 66 popular drinks in Korean language that you might encounter most of the time. 

  • alcohol, liquor in general – 술 sul
  • Soju- 소주
  • Beer- 맥주
  • Makgeolli – 막걸리(Traditional Korean Rice Wine)
  • Champagne-샴페인
  • Cider – 사과주 沙果酒 sagwaju
  • sparkling wine – 스파클링 와인 seupakeulling wa-in
  • rye beer – 호밀맥주 homil-maekju
  • milky rice wine – 탁주(takju)
  • Whisky-위스키
  • red wine – 적포도주 jeok-podoju 
  • rose wine – 로제 와인 roje wa-in
  • Baekseju – 백세주Korean Rice Wine
  • Cocktails – 칵테일
  • Western liquors – 양주 yangju
  • rum – 럼 reom
  • Dongdongju – 동동주
  • Cheongju – 청주Korean Rice Wine
  • Flower Wine – 꽃 와인
  • Korean rice wine with rice grains – 동동주 dongdongju
  • vodka – 보드카 bodeuka
  • tequila – 테킬라 tekilla
  • bomb shot, drop shot – 폭탄주 poktanju
  • mix of Soju and beer – 소맥 somaek
  • Bokbunja-복분자 Korean Raspberry Wine
  • Insamju-인삼주 (Korean Ginseng Liquor)
  • Sansachun – 산사춘
  • Maeshilju-매실주 Korean Plum Wine

Although alcoholic drinks are pretty popular, colorful non-alcoholic drinks like soybean milk, fresh juice, and yogurt smoothie are also enjoyed by Koreans. 

This list includes the names of beverages including alcohol, soda, and water.

  • Yogurt-요구르트(yogureuteu)
  • Soda-소다수(sujadu)
  • coke-콜라(kol-la)
  • Korean tea in general – 전통차 jeontong cha
  • Milk-우유(u-yu)
  • Banana Milk -바나나맛우유 (Bananamat uyu)
  • Smoothie-스무디(seumudi)
  • Sparkling water-탄산수(tansansu)
  • Green tea-홍차(hong-cha)
  • black tea – 홍차 hongcha
  • Soya milk – 두유 duyu
  • almond milk – 아몬드밀크 amondeu milkeu
  • coconut milk – 코코넛 밀크 kokoneot milkeu
  • scorched rice water – 숭늉 sungnyung
  • Korean fruit punch – 화채 花菜 hwachae
  • Sikhye, Korean rice drink – 식혜 食醯 sikhye
  • Tea-티/차(ti/cha)
  • Espresso-에스프레소(eseupeureso)
  • Hot chocolate-핫 초콜릿/코코아hat chokollit/ kokoa
  • Water-물(mul)
  • milk tea – 밀크티 milkeuti
  • cafe latte – (카페) 라떼 (kape) ratte
  • cold brew coffee – 콜드 브류 koldeu beuryu /
  • Iced tea-아이스 티(aiseu ti)
  • Scorched Rice Tea -숭늉 (Sungnyung)
  • South Korean energy drink – 박카스 (Bacchus)
  • Lemonade-레모네이드(lemoneideu)
  • Milkshake-밀크 쉐이크(milkeu sweikeu)
  • protein shake – 프로테인쉐이크 peurote-in swe-ikeu
  • Juice-주스(juseu)
  • fruit juice – 과즙 gwajeup
  • mineral water – 광천수 gwangcheonsu
  • carbonated water– 탄산수 tansansu
  • herbal tea – 허브차 heobeu cha

Korean Drinking Etiquette|how to drink like a real korean

Knowing how to say “cheers” in Korean is easy.

You might know some different ways to say “cheers” now, but it’s not just about the words you say.

Here are some other Korean courtesies and habits that you should know to make sure you’re raising your glass properly.

In fact, You’ll be amazed because no matter old or young, they practice this etiquette. 

This is the reason why you have to learn these etiquettes, not just to make it easier for you but also to respect Korean culture. 

Before talking about these terrifying consequences, let’s look at these crazy rules:

  1. Pour drinks for everyone except you.
  2. The first shots will be fired by seniors.
  3. Consume in moderation.
  4. Fill your glass in a single shot.
  5. Pour drinks with both hands.
  6. Young folks should lower their glasses when saying cheers.
  7. Pour no drinks if the glass is only half full.
  8. When drinking with somebody older or more senior than you, turn away and cover your mouth.
  9. Know your drinking limits.
  10. Lower your cup than him/her while drinking if the person is older than you.


And there you have it—your all-in-one guide for celebrating any event and saying cheers in Korean colorful expressions 

The next time you go to a party or work gathering, just raise your glasses and pick up these new phrases so you can impress them.

and see your language skills grow!

Still in the drinking spirit? Check out our articles on For more related articles, 

How to say yes in Korean language| learn basic Korean phrases

20 Interesting Facts About South Korea

How To Say Beautiful In Korean

K-pours on the rise: the Korean drinks you need to know

Have you ever drunk with Koreans? How did it go? Share your story in the comments below.

We can’t wait to hear about it.

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