how to say Happy Birthday In Korean


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

And how is it birthday celebrated in Korea, anyway?


Here’s how 

The standard and common way to say Happy Birthday in Korean to people older than you is 생일 축하해요(saengil chukhahaeyo).생일 축하합니다! (saengil chukahamnida) is used on formal occasions and for singing happy birthday songs in Korean. You can use 생일 축하해 (sengil Chuka-hae) to wish your close friends or those younger than you.

But sometimes just saying “Happy Birthday” isn’t enough.

There are a few other things you can say or do to make your loved one’s birthday wishes more special & happy. 

Confused? Don’t worry 

Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to say happy birthday in Korean (formal, informal, polite way) with examples. We’ll also talk about Korean birthdays and traditions and the famous Happy Birthday song in Korean, so you can wish effectively with no stress.

Alright guys, let’s dig in. 

How to Say Happy Birthday In Korean

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 (informal, polite, formal way) including their hangul, romanization, and pronunciation.

  • 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.

How To Say Standard “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 to 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  

How Do You Say Happy Birthday In Korean To Friends.

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.” just use it to wish only 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, friend.  

친구야 생일 축하해! – chinguya saengil chukahae

Happy Birthday Jess!

생일 축하해, 제스! – saengil chukahae jeseu  

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

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

Asking Someone’s Birthday In Korean?|

To ask someone”When is your birthday in a polite way, Just say the phrase

생일이 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 their 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‘.

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


And there you have it—your all-in-one guide for celebrating birthdays in Korea 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.

if you want to know more about how to wish someone happy birthday and sing birthday songs,check out this free guide