Thank you for your response. I see there are other people that have run
into the same problem.
I've had to work around many curses issues while developing Urwid (a
console UI library). Even if the bugs are fixed I'm going to have to
bypass the curses module to support UTF-8 in a reliable way for all users.
I think there are enough escape sequences common to all modern terminals
so that I can build a generic curses-replacement for my library.
However, if someone is already working on something similar I don't want
to reinvent the wheel.