Hearing loss pushed her to speak four languages

Kim Su-rim was 6 years old when she first experienced a painful fact of life ? that she had lost her hearing and could do nothing about it.

However, she turned her irreversible disability into a weapon, mastering three foreign languages.

Now, the 40-year-old Seoul native works at Credit Suisse Securities in Tokyo as Legal & Compliance assistant vice president, speaking Japanese, English and Spanish on top of her native Korean.

Kim comfortably communicates with colleagues in Japanese and English, although she cannot take phone calls or attend group meetings. She doesn't use sign language.

"Although I cannot hear, I am able to speak by remembering the sounds I heard before I became deaf. I understand what people say by reading their lips," Kim told The Korea Herald.

"There is no problem in carrying out my daily duties at all."

She recently published a Korean-language essay, "There's Nothing to Give up in Life ? How I learned to speak four languages with a hearing disability," after her original Japanese book became a hit in Japan in 2011.

According to her book, hearing impairment was not the only problem in her life.

Time apart from her parents at a young age kept her lonely and insecure.

She was abandoned by her father at age 4.

Until she graduated from elementary school, she was left to her grandmother because her mother went to Japan for business.

Kim moved to Japan when she was 12, following her mother.

However, the teenage girl was sent to a Japanese man called Ishibashi, who was an acquaintance of her mother, because her mother wanted her to be fully immersed in Japanese language and culture.

At Ishibashi's home, she lip-read what his family were saying and kept trying to link the words with things.

"Hearing loss was already a very natural thing for me and I did not have the luxury to think whether I could do it or not. I was desperate to learn how to lip read and speak in Japanese," Kim said.

"I had no time to feel frustrated. I just kept studying over and over again."

This stable life, however, did not last.

Four years after she moved in to Ishibashi's, Kim had to either live with his family forever as a foster daughter or move into her mother's house.

Kim chose the latter.

She lived in the mother's two-story bar for three years of her high school life, which she now describes as the "second dark time" in her life.

Graduating from high school, she seriously thought about how she had to live the rest of her life.

The only conclusion she reached was mastering English. She thought it would be a strong weapon for her to survive in a highly competitive world.

Kim persuaded her mother to send her to Britain to study English.

1 2 
Become a fan on Facebook