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Posted: Jun 12 2018, 01:27 PM
© Starlight [She/Her] // Offline
Starlight. PM for Discord. She/Her. Pacific.
Shy, sensitive, and quiet, Yoona tends to keep to herself during her free time, or only with people that she feels close and comfortable with. Being hearing-impaired, she struggles sometimes to communicate well with people that are unaware of her condition, so most of the time she'd rather just avoid the problem entirely. She can read lips to some degree and her hearing aids make her able to understand people enough to hold a conversation, but she doesn't like wearing them any more than she has to since she finds them rather bulky and obvious. And attention is not something she enjoys a lot of in most parts of her life.
Preferring the company of animals over people, some may find her odd or quirky, especially given that her favorites typically have scales or shells rather than fur or feathers (apart from, of course, her adorable aquatic mammal friends). She feels weird eating any sort of seafood, which can be difficult to avoid entirely in Seoul, so she just makes sure to not eat it very often and, when she does, make sure that whatever she's eating was harvested or fished with sustainable and ecologically-focused practices.
While most of her job does keep her away from crowds of people as she tends to do behind-the-scenes education work, such as making displays and helping with research, Yoona does enjoy the part of her job that requires her to don a sunset-colored mermaid tail and swim around in some of the aquarium's larger tanks, entertaining adults and children alike. As long as it doesn't require talking, she's comfortable performing like this in front of as many people as need be. And she loves seeing the looks of awe and wonder on the children that believe in her magic.
Yoona's parents like to joke that they found her as a child on the beach in a clam shell, tucked inside like a perfect little pearl. And the young girl believed this for a while - after all, it made sense, given how much time she liked to spend on the sandy beaches of Jeju Island. She was fortunate that her father was a fisherman and they lived close to the ocean, so the shores were accessible to her at pretty much any time. And oftentimes, if they couldn't find her, her parents knew exactly where she'd be - tucked away in a secret little section of shoreline that she'd discovered through lots of exploration and clambering around on barnacle-encrusted rocks.
There were several reasons she spent so much time by the sea, the foremost of which being that she just loved it there. Loved watching the waves lapping at the sand, the seabirds floating on the air, the pods of migrating whales breaching out in the sea. It was peaceful, unlike the bustling human world. She was home-schooled as well by her mother, which made it easier to pop over to the beach after lessons were over and work on homework. The reason she was home-schooled was the other reason why she spent so much time on the shores.
A short time after Yoona was born, her parents had noticed that some of her behaviors seemed a bit strange. She didn't react to noises like they thought most babies should, and she was very quiet and hard to startle. Concerned, they took her to a doctor, who ran some tests and confirmed what they'd suspected - that Yoona was entirely deaf in one ear, and mostly so in the other. Rather than let this worry them, her parents instead went to work doing what they needed to help Yoona live a life as normally as possible. They bought a hearing aid for the one ear that still had some sense, and began learning sign language so that they could be prepared to communicate with her when she was able to. Unfortunately, none of the schools near where they lived in Jeju were able to make accommodations for a nearly deaf child, so Yoona's mother took it upon herself to teach Yoona at home instead.
And Yoona was happy with her parents' decisions, when she was old enough to know what they were. She had a few friends through her parents' friends, which was enough, since she wasn't very sociable to begin with. It had become obvious to her pretty early on that people didn't really know how to interact with her once they learned of her impairment, and no one besides her parents wanted to go to the effort of learning another language just to talk to her. So she made herself be content with her quiet life, making friends with the crabs and birds on the beaches and imagining what it might be like to live underwater where sounds worked so much differently than on land.
Things changed one day when suddenly her private getaway wasn't so private anymore. A boy about her age - maybe seven or eight at the time - discovered her little area of beach, probably through the same means that she'd found it. She'd freaked out a bit at first, upset that her hideaway was no longer undiscovered, and by a boy no less. But... once he started talking to her and seemed to realize her trouble communicating (she never wore her hearing aid when she went to the beach), rather than seem perturbed by this discovery, he... seemed more drawn to her instead. Confused and surprised, Yoona realized that maybe having a new friend in her place wasn't so bad after all.
His name was Mingyu, and when they met the second time, he signed a greeting to her and even knew a couple other common words and phrases. Astounded, Yoona plopped down on her favorite rock and began trying to teach him as many things as she could that he could keep up with. He caught on surprisingly quickly, and within a couple months, they were able to have conversations that only required her to do a little bit of lip reading.
It didn't take long for Mingyu to become her best friend. It was something she'd never had before, and as far as she was concerned, he was like an angel that came into her lonely life and showed her things she'd never known about before. He was always so kind to her, so gentle and sweet, it probably wouldn't have surprised anyone to know that she developed a bit of a crush on him in her pre-teen years. Yoona herself didn't even really know what a crush was, though, so she simply acted around him as she always did - giggling at his jokes, following him around like a puppy, hanging on his arm (he was much taller than her petite frame even from a young age).
The next several years were great. Every day after she finished her lessons she'd run to the beach, hoping that Mingyu would be there. He wasn't able to go every day, so she was never sure whether or not she'd see him, but it didn't matter - a day on the beach was always fun, and it was just moreso with him around.
Of course... Like all good things, it didn't last. Mingyu got the opportunity to go to Europe when he was fourteen, and though she was happy that he was able to go do something so fun and enriching, she was upset at the idea of her best friend moving so far away. She made him promise to keep in contact with her as much as possible - it was the only way the move would be more bearable for her.
Life went back to the way it was before she met Mingyu. Her days consisted of school and the beach and not a whole lot else. She did start doing more of her own personal research on marine biology and conservation, and by the time she was old enough to decide what to do after she was done home-schooling, she knew she wanted to get into environmental education. She was able to find a program through a university in Seoul that was accessible enough for her to pursue, so she made a tearful goodbye to her parents and her ocean home and went off to the big city.
The adjustment was difficult. She'd been to Seoul a couple times in her life, but it was hard for her not to be as close to the ocean as she'd been before. The crowded streets were a bit overwhelming, though she gradually got used to them in time. Studying in a different environment was also challenging. But Yoona was determined, and there was another great thing about living in Seoul - Mingyu was there too! She couldn't believe he'd been scouted by an entertainment agency, but she was really excited for him and couldn't wait to see him debut. Sadly they were both too busy to see each other as much as she would've liked, but it was still better than not having him around at all.
During her time in college, Yoona discovered something that fascinated and spoke to her - professional mermaids. She'd never heard of such a thing before and immediately became infatuated, wondering if it would be possible to make her own career out of such a thing. She'd always felt at home in the water, so it just seemed a natural thing for her to try. She was able to make her first tail through tutorials online, and tried out her new "limb" during quiet pool hours. Yoona loved how it felt. When she wasn't studying, she spent time trying to perfect her swimming abilities and work on her breath-holding abilities. By the time she finished her degree in marine biology, she considered herself as much a mermaid as physically possible.
She landed a job soon after graduating at the aquarium at Coex Mall, working on their educational displays and research facilities. Yoona shyly pitched the idea of performing mermaid shows as well, and her employers loved it. So now Yoona's job consists of two roles - part-time researcher & educator, and part-time mermaid. And even though she's still not as close to the ocean as she'd like to be, her job makes up for it for the most part.
THEONS @ SHINE
Posted: Jun 17 2018, 01:10 PM
© cody [they/them] // Online