[HarfBuzz] an issue regarding discrepancy between Korean and Unicode standards

Dohyun Kim nomosnomos at gmail.com
Wed Mar 20 20:03:12 PDT 2013


When a sample input string, say "U+1100 U+1161 U+11F0", is processed
by current version of harfbuzz with some fonts, eg. malgun.ttf bundled
with windows 8, we get something like "U+AC00 U+11F0", which is not
good in its visual result.

The reason is that there is discrepancy between Korean industrial
standad (KS X 1026-1: 2007) and Unicode normalization rule.
Malgun.ttf observes Korean standard only and does not care about
international unicode standard for normalizaiton.  FYI, an English
translation of KS X 1026-1 is available at

Normalization done by current harfbuzz is of course compliant with
unicode standard.  "U+AC00 U+11F0", ie. precomposed character in
Hangul syllable block followed by trailing consonant Jamo letter, is
perfectly legal and is canonically identical to "U+1100 U+1161
U+11F0".  According to KS X 1026-1, however, this should not occur.
Section 5.3 of the Korean standard says: "A Wanseong syllable
block(U+AC00..U+D7A3) cannot be recomposed with Johab Hangul
letters(U+1100..U+11FF U+A960..U+A97C U+D7B0..U+D7FB) to represent
another Hangul syllable block."  See also section 6.4 of this

I have hesitated about posting this issue as harfbuzz is observing
unicode normalization rule.  We cannot say it is a bug, and many other
libraries including glib and icu is doing the same as harfbuzz.  I
believe that font developers should care about unicode standard as
well, which some fonts (jieupsida and hcr-lvt) are already supporting.
 But as there are other fonts (malgun.ttf and unbatang.ttf) which do
not give us good result with current harfbuzz, I am now raising this
issue.  Above all, malgun.ttf is now the default Hangul font for the
most widely used OS here in Korea.  I have little knowledge about
programming languages, but the Korean standard mentioned above has
some sample code in its appendix.

Dohyun Kim
College of Law, Dongguk University
Seoul, Republic of Korea

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