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Making Toasts in Korea


(Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.)

"At most of the senior level engagements, when you have a social event, they do expect a toast. Both the host themselves will do a toast and the guests will also do a toast. They'll usually let you know in advance what order they want to do it in, if one of the toasts is going to come at the beginning of the meal, if one's going to come at the end, if they're both going to come at the end, exactly how they want to do them. If there's multiple general officers at present, they may even do a couple of different toasts at different points during the meal or the engagement. And usually when you do a toast in Korea, you don't necessarily just say 'bottoms up' or 'cheers' like you do in a lot of other countries and cultures, including our own. Typically, you list off a lot of things that you feel are important, especially things that are important to the United States–Korean alliance, and then at the end of it you would say 'wihayeo,' which literally translates into 'for the sake of.' So you're listing off all the things that you're getting ready to drink to. And then when you say 'wihayeo,' everyone lifts their glass, responds with 'wihayeo,' and then that's when everyone drinks."

In this video, a service member describes toasting at a leader engagement dinner event.