How do I convert the encoding of contents in a table to utf8?

The table is working perfectly on my WAMP. The problematic column is a JSON string that contains characters like opening quote and  , so I json_decode the string and use the array inside it. When I export the same table to the production server and try to decode the same string, it throws error number 5 meaning the characters are non utf8 encoded.

I have changed the table and database collation to MYISAM and innoDB, then the characters sets, I’ve tried everything between utf8_general and utf8mb64 but the characters are still sitting there. Must I change them manually or is there something I could do to remedy the situation?

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