Monthly Downloads: 1
Programming language: Haskell
License: GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 only
Tags: Text    
Latest version: v0.2.0

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Seonbi: SmartyPants for Korean language

(TL;DR: See the demo web app.)

Seonbi (선비) is an HTML preprocessor that makes typographic adjustments to an HTML so that the result uses accurate punctuations according to the modern Korean orthography. (It's similar to what SmartyPants does for text written in English.)

It also transforms ko-Kore text (國漢文混用; Korean mixed script) into ko-Hang text (한글전용; Hangul-only script).

Seonbi provides a Haskell library, a CLI, and an HTTP API; any of them can perform the following transformations:

  • All hanja words (e.g., 漢字) into corresponding hangul-only words (e.g., 한자)
  • Straight quotes and apostrophes (" & ') into curly quotes HTML entities (, , , & )
  • Three consecutive periods (... or 。。。) into an ellipsis entity ()
  • Classical (Chinese-style) stops ( & ) into modern (English-style) stops (. & ,)
  • Pairs of less-than and greater-than inequality symbols (< & >) into pairs of proper angle quotes ( & )
  • Pairs of two consecutive inequality symbols (<< & >>) into pairs of proper double angle quotes ( & )
  • A hyphen (-) or hangul vowel eu () surrounded by spaces, or two/three consecutive hyphens (-- or ---) into a proper em dash ()
  • A less-than inequality symbol followed by a hyphen or an equality symbol (<-, <=) into arrows to the left (, )
  • A hyphen or an equality symbol followed by a greater-than inequality symbol (->, =>) into arrows to the right (, )
  • A hyphen or an equality symbol wrapped by inequality symbols (<->, <=>) into bi-directional arrows (, )

Since its transformations work in HTML-level, it also plays well with web markup languages like CommonMark, Markdown, and Textile. In a similar way to SmartyPants, it does not modify characters within several sensitive HTML elements like <pre>/<code>/<script>/<kbd>.


Seonbi provides official executable binaries for Linux (x86_64), macOS, and Windows (64-bit). You can download them from the releases page.

It is also distributed as a Docker image:

$ echo '訓民正音' | docker run -i dahlia/seonbi:latest seonbi

If you want to use it as a Haskell library install the seonbi package using Stack or Cabal.


The seonbi command basically takes the input HTML as standard input, and then transforms it into the output HTML as standard output:

seonbi < input.html > output.html

You could pass a filename as an argument instead (and it is - by default):

seonbi input.html > output.html

There is -o/--output option as well:

seonbi -o output.html input.html

Although it automatically detects text encoding of the input file, you could explicitly specify -e/--encoding:

seobni -e euc-kr -o output.html input.html

Although there are several style options, e.g., -q/--quote, -c/--cite, -r/--render-hanja, in most cases, giving -p/--preset is enough:

echo '平壤 冷麵' | seonbi -p ko-kr  # 평양 냉면
echo '平壤 冷麵' | seonbi -p ko-kp  # 평양 랭면

Read -h/--help for details:

seonbi --help


The seonbi-api command starts an HTTP server that takes POST requests with an HTML source with transformation options, and responds with a transformed result HTML. You can decide a hostname and a port number with -H/--host and -p/--port options:

seonbi-api -H -p 3800

The following is an example request:

Content-Type: application/json
Host: localhost:3800

  "preset": "ko-kr",
  "sourceHtml": "<p>하늘과 바람과 별과 詩</p>"

The HTTP API server would respond like this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json
Server: Seonbi/0.2.0

  "success": true,
  "resultHtml": "<p>하늘과 바람과 별과 시</p>"

If a web app needs to use the HTTP API server, CORS should be configured through --allow-origin/-o option:

seonbi-api -o https://example.com

To learn more about parameters interactively, try the demo web app.

Haskell API

All functions and types lie inside Text.Seonbi module and its submodules. The highest-level API is Text.Seonbi.Facade module.

See also the API docs or Hackage.


Distributed under LGPL 2.1 or later.


Seonbi (선비) means a classical scholar during Joseon periods (14c–19c). Today there's a meme that calls a person who feels morally superior or has elitism seonbi in the Korean internet. So seonbi and smarty pants have some things in common.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the seonbi README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.