Deaf Supermodel to Join Eurasia Cycling Relay

The hearing-impaired supermodel Kim Hee-young will take part in a cycling relay dubbed "One Korea, New Eurasia" that aims to promote Korean reunification.

The relay, hosted by the Chosun Ilbo, will cover a 15,000 km journey that starts in Berlin on Sept. 13 and takes participants through Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China.

Kim will be the team for nine days to complete the 751 km route from Berlin to Warsaw.

"I won't be able to hear very well during the journey, but I hope I can convey the message of peace and reunification to the people of Eurasia through sign language," said Kim with a big smile.

Kim Hee-young Kim Hee-young

Kim lost much of her hearing when she was in her second year in middle school after a mystery illness. She cannot hear high-pitched sounds and only sporadically some low-pitch ones. She understands by reading people's lips, so she looks at people's mouth rather than eyes when communicating.

"I want to succeed in the relay and show my parents that they needn't worry about me, that I can overcome difficulty on my own and be happy," she says. "My mother still feels terribly sorry for me even a decade after I lost my hearing. I hope she can accept my disability with ease."

Kim started cycling as hobby when she began modeling. "When I cycle, I feel like I'm relieving stress and I don't think about things that make me sad," she says.

She won the 2011 Miss Deaf Korea contest, and became a supermodel after competing against non-disabled contestants in 2012.

Since December last year, she has been working in a design team at Lotte.com.

Among her 10 team members is Heo Young-joo, a member of girl band The SeeYa. They are only two women in the team.

"Young-joo is prettier but I'm better at cycling," Kim says. “Women aren't necessarily inferior to men in cycling."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 23, 2014 08:08 KST