Ever wanted to command line import some data into MySQL and keep the encoding type? Turns out its not that difficult. Just a simple command line option. That said I have to look it up all the time.
mysql -u USERNAME -pPASSWORD --default_character_set utf8 DATABASE > file.sql
That will import things across with the correct encoding type. I think personally that the face that MySQL fails to throw an error or even raise a warning when it encounters these sort of issues is wrong but where you have no choice the above fixes problems.