Best of 2011 -- Jim Forman's favorite story of the year

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KING5.com

Posted on December 30, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 30 at 12:47 PM

Over the year, the hundreds of stories I covered, the one that touched me the most was the saga of Crystal Kim. I met her while covering a story at Sea-Tac.

She had motioned me over, and sitting in a wheel chair, looking tired, in a soft voice she pleaded for someone to help her. She had won her first battle with cancer, and now it was clear she was losing her second, in the battle for her life, she was in a battle with Korean Air.
 
All Crystal Kim wanted to do was get on a Korean Airlines flight to her native South Korea. The airline told her she was too sick to fly. Travel industry experts said airlines routinely transport sick patients, and could not understand Korean Air's actions.
 
Crystal's story spread. It created shame for the airline in South Korea, but still it refused to fly her home to see her family one last time.
 
While we were at the airport, my photojournalist that day, Eric Wold, noticed Delta had a flight to Seoul. We helped the Kims over to the counter. Delta, would take Crystal and her daughter Mimi. It would be a few days until there were some open seats, but they had tickets.
 
The day of their departure, Delta treated Crystal like a rock-star. Greeted at the curb, escorted through security, given a quiet spot in the airport lounge, and an upgrade to the best seats on the plane.
 
When she arrived in Seoul, Korean TV had cameras there, newspaper reporters quizzed her, and she didn't hold back on venting her displeasure with Korean Air. The interview was sent out over satellite around the world.
 
A few weeks later I received an email from Mimi Kim. Her mother had slipped away. But those last weeks surrounded by family and old friends made up for the ordeal she endured to get to South Korea.
 
Godspeed Crystal Kim on your final journey, your spirit touched many who followed your story of courage, determination, and hope.

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