Cho Moon Ja
Cho Moon Ja was born in Mokpo, Cholla Nam Do (South Cholla Province), Korea on September 17, 1943. Her father was Cho Chang Sup, and her mother was Jung Jung Yae. At the time Moon Ja was born, Korea was a colonial protectorate of Japan, until the end of World War II in 1945.
Moon Ja’s paternal grandfather had a timber and lumber business near Mokpo and was quite successful. She remembers as a child living in a very large house with servants. He wanted his son to be successful as well.
Moon Ja’s father, Cho Chang Sup attended Mokpo Sangup (Commercial) High School, but finished high school in Japan. He attended Waseda University in Japan for two years and then graduated from Kyushu University with a degree in law. He passed the examination (which was so difficult that only two out of a hundred are able to pass) when he was 26 years old and became an attorney.
While attending university in Japan, Chang Sup met and became friends with another student from Kwangju, Korea, a Mr. Jung. This student had three sisters, and introduced him to the younger two of them, eighteen and twenty years old. Chang Sup was more attracted to the older of these two sisters, and married Jung Jung Yae, Moon Ja’s mother on May 19, 1939. Jung Yae completed Sophia High School and had wanted to become a nurse, but her father forbade her to study, as he was of the opinion that a woman with a higher education would try to be above her husband.
Moon Ja’s father was an attorney, then a prosecutor, and finally a judge. He became the Chief Justice of the High Court in Daegu and then Chief Justice of the High Court in Seoul. Moon Ja’s mother’s older sister also was married to a judge who became the Chief Justice of the High Court in Pusan. Moon Ja remembers her parents having parties at their house for their friends. She remembers that she liked Yoo byeonhosa (Lawyer Yoo) when he came to their house, because he used to bring chocolate candy to her and her sister.
She tells of another time when Yoo byeonhosa was at their house. She was peeking through the crack in the door while the grownups were in the other room praying, when she saw Yoo byeonhosa keeping one eye open. She told her mother about it, and her mother mentioned that to him later. He quickly answered that he was not a Christian, so he should not shut both eyes during prayer, but out of respect he did keep one eye closed. Her mother said that that was a just answer, that he was very brilliant, and that some day he would be on the Supreme Court. Indeed, Yoo byeonhosa did become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
During the Korean War, they had to leave Seoul, and traveled south in a wagon. She remembers hearing shooting and the echos in the distance, and was intrigued by the sound. They traveled to Pusan, where her father was commissioned the rank of Captain in the Korean Navy, and was a Navy Judge Advocate in Pusan for three years. Because of his time in the Navy, he missed his chance to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
There in Pusan they lived right above Songdo Beach near the ocean, and she used to walk down the hundred steps from their house to play on the beach. Her father’s office was on Yeongdo Island near the drawbridge. He had a jeep with a driver who picked them up and took her father to his office and she and her brothers and sister to school every morning and brought them back in the afternoon.
Moon Ja became ill with meningitis while she was about seven years old. They lived in Hongseongil at the time, where her father was Commissioner at the Hongseongil Branch of the Daejeon District Public Prosecutor’s Office. There she spent a year and a half in a hospital with the curtains closed. They had to draw fluid from her spine occasionally, a painful procedure, and she was at times not expected to live. Her mother sacrificed to have her cared for.
Moon Ja studied music and was a voice major. She had a high soprano voice, and sang opera. When she was a senior in high school in 1962 Moon Ja entered several university singing contests. Among thirty-three contestants at Seoul National University, she won third place. At Hanyang University, she was the first place winner, and they determined her singing to be so superior that there was no second place awarded; the next prize was for third place. She was given a Seiko watch for her singing.
As a result of her winning these music contests she was able to enter Ewha Womens University without having to take the entrance examination, where she studied music for three years.
Moon Ja has two older brothers, Young Ho and Young Chul, and a younger sister, Moon He. Young Ho studied law, but preferred playing the violin, and became an expert violinist. Young Chul went to medical school and became a successful physician. Her mother passed away on April 26, 1958 while she was in middle school. Her father remarried, and she has three half sisters, Eun Sung, Sung He, and Moon Sung. Her father passed away on March 18, 1969. Young Chul now spells his family name “Jough”.
In November of 1967 Moon Ja met an American student in Seoul, and married Harlan R. Hardie on April 2, 1968. Their daughter, Sharon Christine, was born in December of that year, and was nine months old when Moon Ja moved with her husband and daughter to the United States in September, 1969, where they settled in Dayton, Ohio. Their son, Hayden Randal was born there in July, 1970. Moon Ja was naturalized as a United States citizen on her thirty-third birthday, September 17, 1976, and took the legal name Ann Christine Hardie at that time.
Moon Ja has lived with her family in Dayton, Springboro, Huber Heights, and Fairborn, Ohio. She has been in the retail wig business for many years, and kept a shop at the Caesar Creek Market on the weekends. She enjoys working outdoors in her garden, watering her flowers, cooking and knitting, and visiting with her friends.
In November 2018 she suffered a severe stroke and has since been on a slow road to recovery.
After a short period of steadily becoming weaker, Moon Ja passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of January 2, 2021. She will always be remembered as a vibrant, energetic, loving, beautiful lady; wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and companion.
Moon Ja’s surviving family includes her husband of 53 years, Harlan; a son, Hayden, his wife, Tanja, and their son, Branden; as well as six siblings, and other extended family.
Private services will be held by the family with arrangements in care of Belton-Stroup Funeral Home, Fairborn.
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