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how to say Happy Birthday in Korean(4 best ways )

Everybody loves birthdays, and Koreans are no exception. But how to say “Happy Birthday” in Korean if you have Korean-speaking friends ?

Here’s how 

To say Happy Birthday in Korean, use “생일 축하해요” (saengil chukhahaeyo) for people older than you, “생일 축하합니다!” (saengil chukahamnida) for formal occasions, and “생일 축하해” (saengil chuka-hae) for close friends or those younger than you.

Just saying “Happy Birthday” sometimes doesn’t cut it. Want to make your loved one’s birthday extra special?

Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to say happy birthday in Korean (formal, informal, polite) with examples. We’ll also explore Korean birthdays, family traditions, and the famous Happy Birthday song in Korean.

Alright world, it’s time to dig in. 

4 correct ways to Say Happy Birthday In Korean(formal & informal)

The easiest way to say “happy birthday” in Korean is 생일 축하해요(saengil chukhahaeyo). 생일 which means “birthday,” and 축하 which means “congratulation.” 생일 축하해 is used to say “happy birthday” informally. To make it more formal, just say 생일 축하합니다! (saengil chukahamnida). You can use this phrase with older relatives and employers.

Here’s how to say happy birthday in Korean in informal, polite, and formal ways depending on the age of the person you are talking to and the situation.

  • The formal and polite way- 생일 축하해요 (sengil chuka-heyo) – polite
  • The formal way – 생일 축하합니다 (sengil chuka-hamnida) – formal
  • The causal way -생일 축하해 (sengil chuka-hae) – casual
  • The super formal /honorific way -생신 축하드려요 (sengshin chuka deu-ryeo-yo)

Let’s see them in detail.

happy birthday in korean

Happy Birthday In Korean formal and polite: How To Say Standard “Happy Birthday” In Korean?

happy birthday in korean

The standard formal and polite way to say Happy Birthday in Korean is 생일 축하해요(saengil chukhahaeyo).축하해요 is the present tense of the verb 축하하다(chukahada) means “to congratulate” with the polite ending 요.

Just use it with people older than you, with whom you aren’t socially close. Or when you are not sure which form to use like in school and the office.

When to use 생일 축하해요(saengil chukhahaeyo)

  • The person you’re talking with is older than you.
  • You aren’t really close to that person.
  • You are unsure which form to use.
  • you are in a formal situation like in the office or school.

Example sentences

Happy birthday auntie  

생일 축하해요 이모  

Suji, Happy 30th birthday.

수지씨,30번째 생일을 축하해요.sujissi samsip bonjjae saengireul chukahaeyo  

Happy birthday in advance.  

생일 미리 축하해요.saengil miri chukahaeyo

Happy Birthday In Korean Informal: How Do You Say Happy Birthday In Korean To Friends.

happy birthday in korean

생일 축하해(saengil chukhahae) is the informal way of wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Birthday in Korean. 생일 means birthday and 축하해 comes from the verb 축하하다(chukahada) means “to congratulate.

It’s really okay to wish to use this phrase with very close friends, cousins, and siblings that are born in the same year as you.

Sometimes you might have heard the abbreviation “생축(‘생’일 ‘축’하해)”. People even use “ㅅㅊ” to wish happy birthday while texting.

When to use

  • You are talking to your close friends, young children, and spouses.
  • You are talking to close family members who are of a similar age as you, such as your siblings or cousins.


Happy birthday, sister (if you are the younger sister)  

생일 축하해 ,언니-Saeng-il chukhahae, eonni

Happy birthday ,younger brother

동생아 생일 축하해. – dongsaenga saengil chukahae

 Happy Birthday, friend.  

친구야 생일 축하해! – chinguya saengil chukahae

Happy Birthday Jess!

생일 축하해, 제스! – saengil chukahae jeseu  

Happy birthday, Mirae. (if you are the older brother/sister.)

생일 축하해, 미래야.- saengil chukahae miraeya

Happy Birthday In Korean Formal: How To Say “Happy Birthday” In Korean Formal Situations?

happy birthday in korean

생일 축하합니다 (saengil chukahamnida) is the most formal way of saying happy birthday in Korean. It consists of two words “to congratulate (축하하다)” and “birthday(생일)” in Korean.

축하합니다 comes from the verb 축하하다(chukahada) with the formal ending합니다 (hamnida). Used in the birthday song and for formal occasions.

When to use

  • To somebody older than you,
  • To somebody, you are not close to.
  • To somebody at work like your boss
  • To sing the happy birthday song in Korean

Have a hard time memorizing all this?

Want to learn the one and only way of saying “Happy Birthday” in Korean? Just memorize 생일 축하합니다 (saengil chukahamnida).


생일 축하합니다! (saengil chukahamnida) and 생일 축하해요! (saengil chukhahaeyo) are set phrases and can be used on most occasions. They are also the versions of “Happy Birthday” that appear on birthday cards.

Example sentences

She celebrated her late birthday yesterday  

그녀는 어제 늦은 생일을 축하했습니다.geunyoneun oje neujeun saengireul chukahaetsseumnida

Happy Birthday In Korean Formal(honorific): how to say “Happy Birthday” In Korean super Formal Situations?

생신 축하드립니다 is the honorific and very respectful way to say Happy Birthday In Korean. 축하드리다 coming from the noun 축하 and 드리다(to give)which literally means ‘I give congratulations’.

You can use it while talking to people who are considered “higher status” like an older relative (your grandparents) Or Your teacher or professor at university and you have to show a lot of respect.

When to use

  • You are talking to older relatives like your grandparents.
  • To someone relative whom you met for the first time, like your friend’s or spouse’s dad, or grandfather.
  • If you are talking with higher status in society like your teacher/university professors.

Example sentences

Teacher, Congratulations on your 40th birthday.

 선생님, 40번째 생일을 축하드립니다.

I wish you a very happy birthday, Dad.

아빠, 생일 축하드려요

 Dear customer, My best wishes are with you on your birthday.  

고객님, 생신 축하드립니다.-gogaengnim saengsin chukadeurimnida  

Everybody. Happy birthday to those born in March.

여러분. 3월에 생일이신 분들 생일 축하드려요.

Grandfather,”Happy Birthday in Advance”.

 할아버지, 미리 생일 축하드립니다.-haraboji, miri saengil chukadeurimnida

 Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!  

생신 축하드립니다, 폐하

Real-life conversation to say happy birthday in Korean

Minah, happy birthday. this is my gift for you

 민아야, 생일 축하해. 널 위한 내 선물이야

Thank you. I like it so much

선물 고마워.너무 좋아요. – somnul gomawo. nomu joayo

What are you going to do today?

너 오늘 뭐 할거야?neo oneul mwo halgeoya?

I will eat seaweed soup and cake. And go to the mall in the evening.

나는 저녁에 미역국과 케이크를 먹고 쇼핑몰에 갈 거야.

What are you gonna buy?

뭐 살 거야? mwo sal goya

I will buy some dresses And jeans for my brother for his birthday

드레스를 살 것이다.deureseureul sal gosida  Oh.

When is your brother’s birthday?

아, 네 동생 생일이 언제야?a nae dongsaeng saengiri onjeya 7th June 6월 7일yuk wol chil il

Omg. “it’s my birthday too”

오, 내 생일이기도 해요.o nae saengilrigido haeyo

Really. Let’s celebrate together then

정말이야! 그때 우리 같이 축하하자. – jongmariya ,geuttae uri gachi chukahaja

Ok. Let’s do it.

그래, 해보자.geurae haeboja

Happy birthday in Korean song: how to sing Happy Birthday in Korean song with lyrics.

Birthdays are incomplete without singing the happy birthday song before blowing the cake and making a wish.

Koreans do it too

Here are the lyrics to the Korean happy birthday song.

happy birthday in korean

It usually starts with clapping to the beat of ‘Happy Birthday.’

Just repeat ‘Happy birthday’ in Korean( 생일 축하합니다)many times, and in the second last line, just add another extra line for your beloved. 

So here’s what I mean 

생일 축하합니다 (Saeng il chuka hap ni da)- 

생일 축하합니다 (Saeng il chuka hap ni da)

사랑하는 (their name) 이/씨 (Our beloved [name])

And now, double-time it! A little bit faster now!

생일 축하합니다 (Saeng il chuka hap ni da)

생일 축하합니다 saeng-il chuka habnida (Happy Birthday to you)

생일 축하합니다 saeng-il chuka habnida (Happy Birthday to you)

사랑하는 (their name) 이/씨 (Our beloved [name])

생일 축하합니다 saeng-il chuka hamnida (Happy birthday to you)

Asking Someone’s Birthday In Korean?| Happy Birthday In Korean

What about if we want to ask around questions about someone’s birthday in Korean instead? Like “When is your birthday?

To ask someone”When is your birthday in a polite way, please say the phrase생일이 언제예요? (sengili unjeseyo?).

생신 means birthday and 언제세요 means ‘when is?’ ‘생신이 언제세요?’ is a formal way of asking ‘When’s your birthday?’ in Korean.

While asking a close friend/someone younger than you, just use the causal way i.e.생일이 언제야?

Here are three common ways to ask “when someone’s birthday is” depending on the formality .

  • The very respectful – 생신이 언제세요? (sengili unjeseyo) 
  • The  respectful생일이 언제예요? (sengili unje-eyo)
  • The casual생일이 언제야? (sengili unjeya?)

And you can answer in two different ways:

  • 제 생일은 5월 14일이에요. (je sengileun 5wol 14ilieyo.) – respectful
  • 내 생일은 3월13일이야. (ne sengileun 6wol 7iliya.) – casual

We can say when our birthday is respectfully like this:

In the sentence 제 생일은 5월 14일이에요, the word 제 생일 means ‘my birthday’, 5월 14일 means ‘May 14th‘ and lastly, 이에요 is the polite form of the be-verb, so this sentence means ‘My birthday is on May 14th‘.

How to respond if someone says Happy Birthday in Korean?

thank you in korean

When someone says happy birthday in Korean, you can just say thank him/her by saying thank you in Korean.

The standard way to say Thank you in Korean is 고마워요 (gomawoyo) and this is used when you speak with a person close to your age. 고마워 (gomawo) is the informal way to say thank you to someone who is the same age or younger than you.

you can use 감사합니다(kam-sa-ham-ni-da) or 고맙습니다 (gomabseubnida) in more formal situations

Here is how to say thank you in Korean(from formal to informal)in different situations.

  • Thank you in Korean informal – 고마워 (gomawo)
  • Thank you in Korean polite – 고마워요 (gomawoyo) or 감사해요 (gamsahaeyo)
  • Thank you in korean formal – 감사합니다(kam-sa-ham-ni-da) or 고맙습니다 (gomabseubnida)

How To Say Your Birth Date?|The Correct Way To Write The Date In Korean.

date in korean

The basic structure to say date in Korean language is yy/mm/dd. To say the date in Korean, we start with the year followed by months and days. To say a year in Korean, just add the 년(nyeon)(counter for years ) at the end and then for months in Korean 월 [wol]. For the day you can use the Sino Korean with 일. 

Here is the basic structure of each date in Korean 


If your birthday is on 7 March 1994, you can say – 천구백구십사년 삼월 칠일 (chongubaekkkusipssanyon samwol chilril)

  • 29 march 2001= 이천일년 삼월 이십구 일
  •  13 January = 일월 십삼일
  • 18 august =팔월 십팔일

Having your birthday party will be a lot of fun! And with the help of some related Korean birthday vocabulary, you’ll be able to have fun while celebrating.

Here’s a list of a few Korean words related to saying “happy birthday” in Korean.

You might encounter these words at a traditional Korean birthday party or even when talking about this topic.

  • birthday = 생일(saengil)
  • The first birthday -첫돌이(chotttori)
  • birthday cake = 케이크(keikeu)
  • birthday card = 생일 축하 카드(kadeu)
  • birthday party =생일 축하 파티 파티(saengil pati)
  • Gift = 선물(sonmul)
  • Birthplace – 출생지 (chulsaengji).
  • Seaweed soup =미역국(miyokkkuk)
  • flower=꽃(kkot)
  • Birth of a child – 탄생 (tansaeng)
  • Chocolates = 초콜렛(chokolret)
  • It’s Delicious = 맛있어요.(madissoyo)
  • Birthday dinner= 생일저녁(saengiljonyok)
  • Congratulations = 축하해요 (chook-ha-hae-yo)
  • guest=손님(sonnim)
  • Birthday gift- 생일선물(saengilsonmul)
  • Candles – 양초(yangcho)
  • Cone hat/ party hat – 고깔모자(gokkalmoja)
  • Invitation- 초대(chodae)
  • Surprise birthday party! – 깜짝 생일 파티

Example Sentences

It’s a birthday gift for a friend.

 친구에게 보내는 생일 선물입니다

The birthday card arrived three days late.

그 생일 축하 카드는 사흘 늦게 도착했다.

 I’m having a party to celebrate my 28th birthday next Saturday.  

다음 주 토요일 내 28번째 생일 축하 파티를 열 거야.  

The Queen received many birthday cards and presents  

여왕은 많은 생일 축하 카드와 선물들을 받았다.

 How come none of you guys wished me a happy birthday?

 왜 너희들 중 단 한명도 나한테 생일 축하를 안한거지?  

The baby got sick and died before the first birthday.  

아기는 병이 나서 첫돌이 되기 전에 죽었다.agineun byongi naso chotttori dwegi jone jugottta

Happy Birthday Wishes In Korean| How Are Birthdays Celebrated In South Korea?

Age is considered very important in Korean culture. In Korea, families gather together and celebrate the actual day of the child’s birth. Koreans celebrate birthdays by drinking soju (liquor) and eating cake with their friends. You will hear Koreans singing the Happy Birthday song too.

Korean Birthday Traditions and Food

happy birthday in korean

mi-yuk-gok (seaweed soup)., not cake!

Eating Mi-Yuk-Gok(seaweed soup) is a common Korean birthday tradition. People eat a big bowl of mi-yuk-gook on their birthdays prepared by their mother.

Seaweed soup is made with chopped-up seaweed, and a meat of choice (usually beef). Sesame oil is used as an ingredient.

Seaweed soup is traditionally made by Korean mothers when they give birth to babies. It helps prevent disease and speeds recovery after delivery.

Modern Koreans don’t eat seaweed soup because of the bitterness, but they still eat it on their birthday to remember their mother’s love.

Rice cakes

happy birthday in korean

Rice cake is a very popular Korean snack. It is served during holidays and celebrations like birthdays or weddings as it is believed to bring good fortune.

Older people enjoy eating rice cakes during their birthdays instead of Western cakes.

Western-style cake 

Western-style cakes include both traditional cakes (yellow cake, chocolate cake) and more modern ones (ice cream cake, etc.). Some cakes also use green tea flavorings.

Older people prefer green tea-flavored cakes.

Special birthday years: What is the most important birthday in Korea?

In Korea, there are many different kinds of special birthdays such as the 1st birthday, 100days birthday, 60th birthday, 70th birthday, 80th birthday, 90th birthday, like in Western cultures(celebrate 1st birthday, 21st birthday), etc.

People celebrate these birthdays by giving gifts, eating food, and having parties.

Let’s start with 

First 100 days birthday baek-il


happy birthday in korean

Baek il is the birthday celebration when the baby’s first 100 days after childbirth which means 100 days old. Koreans held a small feast with family and friends to celebrate having the child survive the most difficult period of their childhood.

You’ll usually see rice cakes, wine, and other delicacies such as red and black beans sweetened with sugar or honey.

Rice cakes are often shared among friends after parties. They are thought to be beneficial for children’s happiness and longevity.

The Korean Doljanchi | Korean 1st birthday Celebrations! | 돌잔치

happy birthday in korean

[돌잔치]Doljanchi is basically a celebration of a baby’s first birthday. Dol (둘) literally means ‘two’ in Korean while janchi translates to a party.

Korean age can be super confusing, but you’re one year old the day you’re born, which means you are turning two when you are celebrating your very first birthday.

It is basically a big party Where friends and family come together to wish good luck to the baby that has turned one to show their support and love.

Back in the day in Korea, it was a big deal when a child lived to see their first  year of life because of poverty and lack of proper medical care birthday 

Here are some of the few things that you can see at a doljanchi. Koreans usually have this party in an expensive venue like a wedding reception hall, banquet hall, or restaurant.

Other common things you’ll see are fruits and Korean rice cakes or Korean rice towers on the main table which symbolize good fortune and prosperity for the baby. 

Seasonal fresh fruits are also served. 

Traditional Korean outfits are often worn by babies and sometimes their parents as well. These outfits are very colorful and beautiful. Koreans wear traditional Korean outfits and have photos taken. Babies usually wear a beautiful hanbok(Korean traditional outfit) and will have Doljabi (돌잡이).

happy birthday in korean

Doljabi (돌잡이) Is a traditional game where several different objects are laid out in front of the baby and whichever object the baby grabs first predicts what the baby’s future is gonna be like.

The objects in the game are a typical ball, stethoscope, pencil, money, paint, and string.

For instance, if the child grabs the money, he or she will become wealthy in the future. If the string is the first thing that the child shows an interest in, he or she will have a long and healthy life.

Among the guests whoever guesses the right object receives a prize or a gift.

Korean 60th birthday Celebrations! Hwangap

happy birthday in korean

Hwan gap is known as the 60th birthday of a person.

In the past, it has been a special birthday celebration because due to lack of proper medicine and poverty, only a few people get to live till 60 years old.

So children celebrate this occasion to honor their parents.

But in modern Korea, the hwan gap is not that popular anymore because, thanks to modern medicine, people can easily live up to 60 years.

Instead, Koreans celebrate their 70th, 80th, and 90th birthdays, known as chil-sun, palsun and naeun with a very extravagant feast with family and friends.

These days, most families celebrate birthdays by renting a large hall or a hotel room with a big banner of celebration.

Catering services provide delicious food for the guests. A children’s talent show and karaoke are held as well. For a trip overseas, their kids pay for a package tour for their parents.

Birthday hit

생일빵 [sang-il paang] means Birthday hits are a younger generation tradition that allows you to hit the birthday person to get more good luck.

Younger generations also mix drinks with anything they can find on the tables, like salt, ketchup, or pepper.

You can dip socks into the drink, or pour them into your shoes.

This is not a traditional Korean custom, but some younger people still do it for fun.

Korean Birthday Gifts

Deciding on a gift is always a touchy subject.

You may end up making the birthday person happy or sad.

Children love to get gifts on their birthday but As you get older, instead of buying a present it is acceptable to give cash as a present. Elders prefer to get cash or a digital gift voucher.

So many people use smartphones to send gifts to their friends and family as birthday presents. Many people use Kakao Talk, which lets them send a digital gift voucher that can be redeemed for actual products at local shops.

These digital gift cards can be used to buy coffee or dessert cafes, such as Starbucks and Sulbing (‘설빙’ = Korean dessert cafe).

Conclusion And Korean Vocabulary Quiz

And there you have it—your all-in-one guide for celebrating birthdays in Japan and using different, colorful expressions for saying “happy birthday” in Korean.

The next time you go to Korea, or when your Korean language exchange partner’s special day approaches, pick up these new phrases so you can impress them.

And see your language skills grow!

All Koreans have a birthday, one day special for them. 

What are your plans for your birthday? I would love to hear about your special tradition to celebrate someone’s birthday.

Please share it with us in the comments below (we can’t wait to hear about it).

happy birthday in korean

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