Queens schoolteacher Tiffany Rubin's heart leapt. After months of searching, it was the first real lead that her 7-year-old son, kidnapped by his father and taken to South Korea, could be found.
"I was like, 'Oh, my God,' " she told The Post, recalling how she felt the first time she read the e-mail.
But it would take an ex-CIA agent, a Christian charity, bottles of makeup to conceal her black skin and some cash at the airport to get him back.
The boy wept for his mother while he was held by his father - begging to come home and be reunited with her.
It wasn't until Salko, who Rubin says wasn't paying child support, was in danger of losing visitation rights that he took a drastic, illegal step. Salko disappeared with the boy last August, when Kobe was on a two-week visit at his Brooklyn home.
Rubin jumped on the Web to try to locate her son.
For weeks, she joined chat groups and pleaded her case to MySpace members in Seoul, where Salko, 37, also known as Kang-Shik Lee, has family. In late November, the MySpace tipster said the boy had been located.
As promised, the tipster contacted the US Embassy. But absent some sign of abuse, the Foreign Service staff and Korean police who visited Salko in December had no authority to remove Kobe.
Rubin, 30, decided to take matters into her own hands. She couldn't afford the five-figure cost of a bounty hunter, so she turned to Michael Miller and his American Association for Lost Children..."