Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Jill, Jocko the Monkey, and Robert Wright in the foreground.  Judy and little brother in the background.

Rinny (Rin Tin Tin) - The dog that Jocko would jump on and ride.

Robert sent me these pictures.  In his e-mail he said, “The roof of the house is where I fell off when the monkey escaped.  I caught him on the upper roof.  He bit me and we fell down to the lower roof, which startled him and made him bite me again. But that time, I was ready for it and held on.”

                                           Monkey Business

By: Dr. Rodney T. Hard

When I was a young boy in Korea, my friend, Robert Wright had a pet monkey named Jocko.  Robert was the son of a heart surgeon who was a Baptist missionary in Pusan, Korea.  They lived on Yong Do Island across the bay from our house.  Dr. Wright spread the word of Jesus Christ’s saving grace through his acts of love and service to the people of Korea.  He helped start a hospital and treated many needy people with his skill and devotion.

Jocko was a fun loving monkey with an attitude.  One thing he liked to do is jump on Rinny’s back and ride him like a horse while the dog ran around like crazy, trying to shake him off.

Jocko also liked to bite.  In the pictures, you can see Robert take the monkey off of his sister Jill’s back and then end up being bitten on the shoulder.

The Wrights brought Jocko to Taechon Beach one summer.  The missionaries had a private portion of the beach fenced off and many families had cabins to stay in during summer vacation stays. 

We kids would catch grasshoppers and feed them to Jocko so fast that he would have to stuff them in his mouth and store them in his cheeks.  We laughed and kept feeding him to see how far his cheeks would pooch out. Well, we did not know when to stop feeding him, and the monkey did not stop eating until he got so sick that he almost died.

The monkey, Jocko, did die eventually in Pusan from overexposure to cigarettes and rice wine that the Koreans would slip to him, thinking that a drunken monkey was funny.

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When I was in high school, another friend had a monkey that we played with.  Chi Chi loved chewing gum, and if you gave him a wrapped piece of gum, he could have the wrap off and the gum in his mouth in less than a second.  Chi Chi was given to the zoo in the capital city of Seoul, Korea when my friend had to go back to the United States. 

I graduated from school, went to college for a couple of semesters in Wenham, Massachusetts, and then joined the US Army.  So, about two years later while stationed in Seoul, Korea, I met a nice Korean girl that I asked out on a date.  Yes, I took her to the Seoul Zoo on our first date.

When we got to the monkey cage, I was curious as to whether Chi Chi was there.  If he was, would he recognize me?  I thought to myself,” Miss Yung will really be impressed if I make some kind of instant connection with one of the monkeys in the cage.”

I called out, “Chi Chi?  Hey, Chi Chi!”

One of the monkey’s heads spun around and as our eyes met, I could see a spark of recognition cross his face.  I called him again and held out a piece of gum.  He ran over, reached through the bars, and had the wrapper off and gum in his mouth in a flash.  

I reached through the bars to pet him and talked softly to him.  “Do you remember me, Chi Chi?”  He hung onto my arm for awhile while I talked to him.  I gave him some more gum and told him goodbye.  He scampered back to his monkey friends but kept looking back over his shoulder as I walked away into the crowd.  Oh, and yes!  My date was impressed.

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My brother, Sterling, told me that when he was in Viet Nam during the war, there was a monkey at his base that took up residence on one of the 55-gallon barrels of gasoline.   The monkey would not let anyone come near the barrel except to throw it some food or leave some drinking water. 

The monkey put his little head down into the hole where the cap was unscrewed.  He would get high on the gas fumes and loll around in a daze.  When he started to sober up, he would stick his head down the hole and huff more gas fumes until he was stoned out of his mind again.  This went on for weeks until, eventually, the monkey died.  Well, in the middle of a brutal war, at least he died happy.

Sterling Hard standing between to other soldiers in Viet Nam.

Robert Wright getting bitten by Jocko.

Robert Wright and friend Barbara Bozeman monkeying around in front of cabin at Taechon Beach years later in 1969.  Robert followed in his father's footsteps and is now a surgeon in Houston, Texas.  He has also gone on several mission trips to third world countries to volunteer his surgical services in the name of Jesus.