For almost a month it seemed that bureaucratic red tape would make Hui Chong Kim's wish impossible to grant. But a network of volunteers, neighbors and business people in Korea and the United States created a miracle.
Slow government machines came alive and people gave freely of their time and resources. For example, only hours before Hui Chong's grandmother was scheduled to board a plane at Kimpo International Airport, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul granted a visa in two hours - a process that usually takes weeks or months.The director of the South Korean passport agency had only granted the passport the Saturday before, after a call from a Make-A-Wish volunteer helped him discover a lost directive.
Targhee James, an executive with Clearfield-based Bradley Corp., said there was a "special feeling" associated with bringing Hui Chong's grandmother, Rae Bong Cho, to Utah. James became involved after reading a newspaper article about Hui Chong. The next day he contacted South Korean ambassador and acquaintance Tong Jin Park in Washington, as well as other business associates.
He also phoned Make-A-Wish volunteer Bette Mellinger, who had the organizational skills, but did not have James' contacts.
"I needed help, and God sent me Targhee," she said.
Within days bureaucratic barriers were removed and airplane tickets, sold at cost by Jensen-Baron Travel, a Salt Lake City travel agency, were purchased by a donor. Hilton Hotel in Portland also donated a night's lodging for the grandmother's escort.
"There has been a real special feeling associated with this. There is no question where the special help came from," James said.
When contacted by Mellinger and James, LDS mission presidents Mark Peterson, of the Korea Pusan Mission, and Paull Shin, of the Seoul Korea Mission, also donated time and resources. After being contacted Sunday, Shin personally helped Cho get through the visa process on Monday and drove her to the airport. Earlier, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had picked her up in Munsan and taken her to Seoul, 45 minutes away.
Deseret News reporter Joel Campbell, who had met James and Park during an interview last year, also agreed to make calls to key government officials and escort Cho from Portland Monday because he speaks Korean.