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MySQL 5.6 Reference Manual
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13.7.4.2 SET CHARACTER SET Syntax

SET {CHARACTER SET | CHARSET}
    {'charset_name' | DEFAULT}

This statement maps all strings sent between the server and the current client with the given mapping. SET CHARACTER SET sets three session system variables: character_set_client and character_set_results are set to the given character set, and character_set_connection to the value of character_set_database. See Section 10.4, “Connection Character Sets and Collations”.

charset_name may be quoted or unquoted.

The default character set mapping can be restored by using the value DEFAULT. The default depends on the server configuration.

Some character sets cannot be used as the client character set. Attempting to use them with SET CHARACTER SET produces an error. See Impermissible Client Character Sets.