Chinese Search Parameters/Unicode Support

Okay a preface, I wish to keep this as simple as possible, so I’m trying
to work off the basic ruby library with no gems installed (would not
have a problem with this however)

Basically, I wish to have the program prompt the user for a keyword to
search by, all is well with my app, except I have no idea how to
implement a way for the input to be in chinese/japanese/korean

so something along the lines of:

$kcode = ‘u’
require ‘iconv’

print "please enter search parameter: "
search = gets.chomp

now I tried using‘Big5’, ‘UTF-8’).Iconv(search) <–where
search is asian characters, at least before ruby gets a hold of them

… but this really does nothing. How can I get that user input of
chinese/japanese/korean characters to be stored for use later on (to
split/concatenate to other strings etc)

again, not in rails so most previous topics don’t cater to this sort of
idea. thanks