InternetInternet Draft                                                James SENG
<draft-ietf-idn-cjk-01.txt>                               Yoshiro YONEYA
12th Sep 2000
11th Apr 2001                                                Kenny HUANG
Expires 12 Mar 11 Oct 2001                                         KIM Kyongsok

        Han Ideograph (CJK) for Internationalized Domain Names

Status of this Memo

    This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance
    with all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

    Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet
    Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working
    groups. Note that other groups may also distribute working
    documents as Internet-Drafts.

    Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of
    six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
    documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-
    Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as
    "work in progress."

    The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

    The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at


During the development of Internationalized Domain Name (IDN), it is
discovered that there is a substantial lack of information and
misunderstanding on Han ideographs and its folding mechanism.

This document attempts to address some of the issues on doing han
folding with respect to IDN. Hopefully, this will dispel some of the
common misunderstanding of this problem and to discuss some of the
issues with han ideograph and its folding mechanism.

This document addresses very specific problem to IDN and thus is not
meant as a reference for generic Han folding. Generic Han folding are
much more complicated and certainly beyond this document. However, the
use of this document may be applicable to other areas that are related
with names, e.g. Common Name Resolution Protocol [CNRP].

1. Definition and convention

Characters mentioned in this document are identified by their position
or code point in the Unicode character set [UCS]. The notation U+12AB,
for example, indicates the character at the position 12AB (hexadecimal)
in the [UCS]. It is strongly recommended that a [UCS] table is available
for reference for the ideograph described.

Han ideographs are defined as the Chinese ideographs starting from
U+3400 to U+9FFF or commonly known as CJK Unification Ideographs. This

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  1]
covers Chinese 'hanzi' {U+6F22 U+5B57/U+6C49 U+5B57}, Japanese 'kanji'
(U+6F22 U+5B57) and Korean 'hanja' {U+6F22 U+5B57/U+D55C U+C790}.
Additional Han ideographs will appear in other location (not necessary
in plane 0) in the future.

Conversion between ideographs can be done using four different
approaches: Code-base substitution, character-based substitution,
lexicon-based substitution and context-based substitution. Han folding
refers only to code-base substitution, similar to case mapping of
alphabetic characters.

2. Introduction

Traditionally, domain names have been case insensitive (as defined in
[RFC1035] Section 2.3.3). While this is not a problem when domain names
are restricted to English alphanumeric letters and digits, it becomes a
serious problem for IDN. An important criterion for having a robust IDN
is to have good normalization and canonicalization forms. This is to
ensure domain name duplications are kept to the minimal.

Fortunately, Unicode Consortium is developing technical reports on
canonicalization [UTR21] and normalization [UTR15]. Hence, it becomes
simple for IDN to ride upon the work of Unicode and use these

Unfortunately, both [UTR15] and [UTR21] are limited in scope and do not
address many other scripts. In particular, Han ideographs are not
discussed in detail in these documents and most experts are quick to
point out that this problem is technically impossible.

2.1 Han ideographs

While there are many forms or writing style for Chinese characters, the
most common used 'zhengti' {U+6B63 U+4F53/U+6B63 U+9AD4} represent
Chinese ideographs by radicals (U+2E80-U+2FDF) that is composed of
simple strokes.

When the Unicode Consortium started work on Universal Character Set, it
was suggested that Hanzi, Kanji and Hanja ideographs should be unified
into a single code space. This resulted in the CJK Unification, whereby
27,786 Han ideographs are allocated in U+3400-U+9FFF and U+F900-U+FAFF
range. Another 41,000 Han ideographs will be added to Plane 2.

Ideographs are common in China, Korea and Japan but as ideographs spread
and evolve, the form of the ideographs sometimes differs slightly from
country to country. For example, the word 'villa' {U+838A} 'zhuang' in
Chinese, in Japanese is 'sou' {U+8358}. These are given different code
points in Unicode.

3. Chinese (Hanzi)

Chinese ideographs or hanzi {U+6F22 U+5B57/U+6C49 U+5B57} originated
from pictograph. They are 'pictures' which evolved into ideographs
during several thousand years. For instance, the ideograph for "hill"

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  2]
{U+5C71} still bears some resembles to 3 peaks of a hill.

Not all ideographs are pictograph. There are other classifications such
as compound ideographs, phonetic ideographs etc. For example,
'endurance' {U+5FCD} is a pierced 'knife' {U+5200} above the 'heart'
{U+5FC3}, or as a Chinese saying goes, 'endurance is like having a
pierced knife in your heart'.

Hence, almost all Han ideographs are associated with some meaning by
itself which is very different from most other scripts. This causes some
confusion that Han folding is a form of lexicon-substitution.

Chinese ideographs underwent a major change in the 1950s after the
establishment of People's Republic of China. A committee on Language
Reform was established in China whose activities include simplification
of Chinese ideographs. The Simplified Chinese (SC) are used in China
and Singapore and Traditional Chinese (TC) in Taiwan, Hong Kong PRC,
Macau PRC, and most other oversea Chinese.

The process is to take complex ideographs and simplify them. The main
purposes is to make it easier to remember and write and thus to raise
the literacy of the population.

For example, 'lightning' TC {U+96FB} becomes SC {U+6535} (They drop the
'rain' {U+96E8} part from the TC). In many cases, they bear no
resemblance to any of the original traditional forms e.g. 'dragon' TC
{U+9F8D} SC {U+9F99}. Two different TC may also have the same SC since
it means fewer ideographs to learn, e.g. SC {U+53D1} can be {U+667C} or
{U+9AEE} depending on semantics. The official 'Comprehensive List of
Simplified Characters' latest published in 1986 listed 2244 SC

Therefore, the process of SC-to-TC is very complicated. It is not
possible to do it accurately without considering the semantics of the

On the other hand, TC-to-SC is much simple although different TCs may
map to one single SC. While Unicode does not handle TC & SC, in the
informal [UNIHAN] document, it listed 2145 TC and its equivalent mapping
of SC. However, because that document is informal and not part of the
Unicode standard, it is incomplete and has mistakes in the code points.
Hence, precise tables for TC-to-SC conversion have not been fully laid

In domain names, we are particularly interested in is to equivalences
comparison of the names, and not converting SC-to-TC. Therefore, for
this purpose, it is possible that equivalency matching be done in the
TC-to-SC folding prior to comparison, similar to lower-case English
strings before comparing them, e.g. 'taiwan' SC {U+53F0 U+6E7E} will
match with TC {U+81FA U+5F4E} or TC {U+53F0 U+5F4E}.

The side effect of this method is that comparing SC {U+53D1} to TC
{U+667C} or TC {U+9AEE} will both be positive. This implies that SC
'hair' SC  {U+5934 U+53D1} will match TC

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  3]
(U+982D U+9AEE). It will also match TC {U+982D U+9AEE} that does not
have any meaning in Chinese.

It should also be noted that SC are not used together with TC. Hence,
'hair' is either written as SC {U+5934 U+53D1} or TC {U+982D U+9AEE}
but (almost) never {U+5934 U+9AEE} or {U+982D U+53D1}. So the problem
of SC and TC may not too serious for IDN.

Unfortunately, when it comes to names in Chinese, places where SC are
used (i.e. Singapore and China), traditional and simplified ideographs
are sometimes mixed within a single name for artistic reasons. Some of
them even 'create' ideographs for their names.

[Need to add a section on Bopomofo U+3118 to U+312A in future draft]

4. Korean (Hanja and Hangeul)

Korean is one of the first cultures to imported Chinese ideographs into
Korean language as a written form. These Korean ideographs are known as
'hanja' {U+6F22 U+5B57/U+D55C U+C790} and they are widely used until
recently where 'hangeul' {U+D55C U+AE00} become more popular.

Hangeul {U+D55C U+AE00} is a systemic script designed by a 15th century
ruler and linguistic expert, King Sejong {U+4E16 U+5B97}. It is based
on the pronunciation of the Korean language, hanmal. A Korean syllable
is composed of 'jamo' {U+5B57 U+6BCD/U+C790 U+BAA8} elements that
represent different sound. Hence, unlike Han ideographs, each hangeul
syllable does not have any meaning.

Each hanja ideographs can be represented by hangeul syllable. For
example, 'samsung' hanja {U+4E09 U+661F} hangeul {U+C0BC U+C131}. Note
that {U+4E09} is pronounced as 'sa-ah-am' or in jamo {U+3145} {U+314F}
{U+3141}, which gives hangeul {U+C0BC}. While Jamo decompositions are
described in [UTR15] in Form D decomposition, this document also
suggested another hanguel canonical decomposition in Appendix A to
accommodates both modern and old hangeul.
[Need to fill up Appendix A when information is more complete]

Most hanja characters have only one pronunciation. However, some hanja
pronunciation differs as according to orthography (same for Chinese &
Japanese) or the position in a word, which make this more complex. And
of course, conversation of Hangeul back to hanja is impossible by code
substitution without consideration for semantics.

Korean also invented their own ideographs that are called 'gugja'
{U+56FD U+5B57/U+AD6D U+C790}.

5. Japanese (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana)

Japanese adopted Chinese ideograph from the Korean and the Chinese since
the 5th century. Chinese ideographs in Japanese are known as 'kanji'
{U+6F22 U+5B57}. They also developed their own syllabary hiragana
{U+5E73 U+4EEE U+540D} (U+3040-U+309F) and katakana {U+7247 U+4EEE
U+540D} (U+30A0-U+30FF), both are derivative of kanji that has same

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  4]
pronunciation. Hiragana is a simplified cursive form, for example, 'a'
{U+3042} was derived from 'an' {U+5B89}. Katakana is a simplified part
form, for example, 'a' {U+30A2} was derived from 'a' {U+963F}. However,
kanji all remain very integrated within the Japanese language.

Japanese also invented ideographs known as 'kokuji' {U+56FD U+5B57}. For
example, 'iwashi' {U+9C2F} is a Japanese kokuji ideograph. Kokuji are
invented according to Han ligature rules. For example, 'touge' "mountain
pass" {U+5CE0} is a conjunction of meaning with 'yama' "mountain"
{U+5C71} + 'ue' "up" {U+4E0A} + 'shita' "down" {U+4E0B}.

Japanese is also a vocal language, i.e. the script itself is based on
pronunciation. Each hiragana corresponding to one pronunciation and 48
hiragana forms the basic of the Japanese language, including the less
commonly used 'we' {U+3091}. Furthermore, hiragana has more 35 forms to
represent voiced sound, P-sound, double consonant. For example, 'ga'
{U+304C} is a voiced sound of 'ka' {U+304B}. Katakana is a mirror of
hiragana with few more forms and they are used to integrate foreign
words or phrases into Japanese, or to emphasize words or phrases even
in Japanese, or to represent onomatopoeia. For example, 'hamburger'
pronounced as 'han-baa-gaa' in Japanese is written as {U+30CF U+30F3
U+30D0 U+30FC U+30AC U+30FC} instead of {U+306F U+3093 U+3070 U+3041
U+304C U+3041} because it is a foreign word.

If Japanese uses hiragana and katakana only, then it is fairly obvious
that written Japanese is going to be very long. Hence, kanji are used
when referring to nouns or verbs. Each kanji corresponds to one or more
hiragana characters. For example, 'japan' pronounced as 'nippon'
{U+306B U+3063 U+307D U+3093} are written as {U+65E5 U+672C} instead.

Hiragana, like Korean jamo, has no meaning itself. And also, Kanji can
take on different pronunciation (which means different hiragana)
depending where and how it is use in the sentence. For example, 'sky'
{U+7A7A} can be pronounced as {U+305D U+3089} or {U+30BD U+30E9}.

Hence, a code substitution between hiragana and kanji is impractical.

On the other hand, there are Kanji that has the same meaning with the
same pronunciation and equivalent. For example, 'river' "kawa" can be
either {U+5DDD} or {U+6CB3}. The only differential between the two
ideographs is that it signifies the 'size of the river' (the latter is
bigger river).

Japanese also reduce complex Chinese ideographs to a simplified form.
For example, 'both' {U+5169} was simplified {U+4E21}. Note that Chinese
simplified it to {U+4E24} instead. However, traditional Japanese kanji
are seldom used nowadays beyond documenting old historical text that
they are treated different from the more commonly used simplified form,
or used to express proper noun such as person's name or trademarks.
Hence, Han folding here is not recommended.

4. Vietnamese

While Vietnamese also adopted Chinese ideographs ('chu han') and created

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  5]
their own ideographs ('chu nom'), they were now replaced by romanized
'quoc ngu' today. Hence, this document does not attempt to address any
issues with 'chu han' or 'chu nom'.

5. zVariant

Unicode has a three dimension conceptual model to Ideograph
Unification. The three dimensions are semantic (X axis - meaning,
function), abstract shape (Y-axis - general form) and actual shape
(Z-axis  instantiated, type-faced).

When two ideographs have similar etymology but are given two different
code points in Unicode, they are known as zVariant ideograph i.e. they
belong to the same 'Z' axis. For example, 'villa' {U+838A} and {U+8358}.

6. Ideographic Description

In Unicode v3.0, an ideographic description (U+2FF0-U+2FFB) was
introduced allowing Han ideograph to be constructed using radical
(U+2E80-U+2FD5) and Han ideograph (U+3400-U+9FFF).

The intention of this description method is to allow ideograph that is
not defined by Unicode to be described. Hence, it is not necessary that
these ideograph can be display properly. In addition, this method are
not deterministic and allowing same ideograph to be represented in
different sequence.

For example, 'zong' {U+9B03} (for discussion sake, we are going to use
an ideograph which is already in Unicode) can be decomposed to U+2FF1
U+9ADF U+5B97 using descriptive code points and Unified Ideograph.
U+9ADF can also be decomposed as U+2FF0 U+2ED2 U+2F3A and U+5B97 as
U+2FF5 U+2F28 U+2F70. In addition, U+9ADF is equivalent to U+2FBD.
Hence, if we were to use only descriptive code points and radicals only,
we can get U+2FF1 U+2FBD U+2FF5 U+2F28 U+2F70 or U+2FF1 U+2FF0 U+2ED2
U+2F3A U+2FF5 U+2F28 U+2F70.

In addition, certain radical has been simplified and thus, in some
context, equivalent. For example, the radical for 'bird' can be either
U+2EE6 or U+2FC3.

Hence, until there is a deterministic well-defined rule for
ideographic description, ideographs formed by this method are not
recommended for domain names use.

It should be noted that the Unicode Consortium never intended the
ideographic description to be used in protocols like IDN where exact
comparison must be done. But it is certainly desirable to this feature
as it is commons for Chinese to invent ideographs for names by adding
or removing radical from standard ideographs.

7. Mechanism

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  6]

The implicit proposal in this document is that CJKV ideographs may or
may not be "folded" for the purposes of comparison of domain names.

But if folding is required, there are four different ways that this
folding could be done.

a) Folding by DNS clients, or by user agents
b) Folding by DNS servers
c) Folding by Domain Name registration services for the purposes of
   preventing confusing allocations CJKV Domain Names which would,
   if transcoded, be the same

Before we can give much more reaction, we need to know which use is

The third use is important.  It should be put in place. This problem can
be reduced alternately by representing non-ASCII characters that are
domain names or other URL characters using hex-escaped character
references in HTML pages.

To characterize Han characters as ideographs or pictograms is
inadequate, because most of the Han ideograph have both a phonetic and
a semantic element. Indeed, this is enough to characterize Chinese
writing as phonetic, though it is other things as well. Thus, it's
difficult to comment on whether folding is useful for Chinese or not.

The first use has the problem that lightweight devices do not have
enough room to fit a Unicode X-axis mapping table.

The second use has the problem that introducing mapping will limit the
performance of DNS servers.  Alphabetic case mapping can be performed
using a single logical AND instruction; CJKV character folding requires
a lookup table.

In alphabetic scripts, there is also requirement to fold Latin, Greek,
Hebrew, Cyrillic, Hebrew and Arabic together. There may be a stronger
requirement for CJKV characters.

Note also that because modern OS are Unicode based and have network-
downloadable IMEs, "interoperability" is becoming less equivalent to
"use BIG5 characters only" or "use GB2312 character only" or "use
Shift-JIS characters only".

If conservative safety is really required, then
1) find the x-axis characters which are available in all major CJK
   character sets used on the internet;
2) only allow variants of those in domain names;
3) when one variant is used, no other can be allocated.  So comparisons
   are made on x-axis characters, but the license of that domain name
   can pick which y or z variants they wish to use..

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  7]


The editor gratefully acknowledge the contributions of:

Paul Hoffman <>
Jiang Mingliang <>
Dongman Lee <>
Karlsson Kent <>


James SENG International Pte Ltd.
8 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec Tower 3 #24-02
Singapore 038988
Tel: +65 2468208

Yoshiro YONEYA
NTT Software Corporation
Shinagawa IntercityBldg., B-13F
2-15-2 Kohnan, Minato-ku Tokyo 108-6113 Japan
Tel: +81-3-5782-7291

Kenny HUANG 
Geotempo International Ltd; TWNIC
3F, No 16 Kang Hwa Street, Nei Hu
Taipei 114, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-2658-6510

KIM Kyongsok/GIM Gyeongseog


[UNISTD3]   The Unicode Standard v3.0. Unicode Consortium.
[UCS]       ISBN 0-201-61633-5

[IDN]       "IETF Internationalized Domain Names Working Group",
  , James Seng, Marc Blanchet

[CNRP]      "Common Name Resolution Protocol",
  , Leslie Daigle

[CJKV]      CJKV Information Processing ISBN 1-56592-224-7

[C2C]       The pitfalls and Complexities of Chinese to Chinese
            Jack Halpern, Jouni Kerman

[KANJIDIC]  Sanseidos Unicode Kanji Information Dictionary
            ISBN 4-385-13690-4

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  8]

[UNICHART]  Unicode chart

[ZONGBIAO]  Simplified Characters Standard Chart 2nd Edition, 1986

[UNIHAN]    Unicode Han Database, Unicode Consortium

[ISO11941]  ISO TS 11941: Information and documentation 
            Transliteration of Korean script into Latin characters.
            Technical Specification 11941. First edition. 1996-12-31.
            ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

[KimK 1990] "A New Proposal for a Standard Hangeul (or Korean Script)
            Code", KIM Kyongsok.  Computer Standards & Interfaces,
            Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 187-202, 1990.

[KimK 1992] "A common Approach to Designing the Hangeul Code and
            Keyboard", KIM Kyongsok.  Computer Standards & Interfaces,
            Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 297-325, Aug. 1992.

[KimK 1999] A Hangeul story inside computers.  KIM, Kyongsok.  Busan
            National University  Press.  1999. [in Hangeul]

                    Expires 12th March 2001 [Page  9]