Honoring a legacy


Dong Suk-Kee, a Korean American missionary and Gospel preacher, played a significant role in the Korean independence movement in 1919, also known as the March 1st Movement. He was the Founder of the first Church of Christ in Korea in 1930, and his church actively participated in the movement for Korean freedom.


Dong Suk-Kee, also known as D.D. Bell, in America, was born on May 5, 1881, and lived to the age of 90. He received his education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied Methodism. He later received his B.D. from Garrett School of Divinity in 1913 and returned to Korea as a Methodist pastor.


During his time in Korea, Dong worked as the sixth minister for the Naeli Gyohae Church from June 1914 to April 1917. Through his evangelistic efforts, the church grew, and he remodeled the church’s sanctuary and parsonage.


Additionally, the church operated the Yanghwa Hagdang, a modern elementary school system whose playground he helped expand. Dong was deeply engaged in Christian education through the operation of the Yanghwa School, and partly through his work, the school added Yanghwa Yuchiwon or Preschool, one of the first in Korea.


On November 29, 1930, Dong founded the Church of Christ in Korea. By 1940, he had helped establish seven churches in northern Korea and five in the southern region. After liberation, four churches of Christ were planted in Seoul, and one was established in Busan between 1946 and 1949. Dong returned to the United States in 1949 to raise money for missions.


When he could not return to Korea due to the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, he evangelized to Korean military officers who were being trained at the Army Infantry School in Port Banning, Georgia. He also sent missionaries after the armistice and raised money for missionary expenses.


Dong Suk-Kee and his church actively participated in the March 1 Movement. The March 1st Movement was a mass demonstration against Japanese colonial rule on March 1, 1919. It began with a declaration of independence, and Koreans nationwide participated in nonviolent protests, demonstrations, and strikes. The movement lasted for several months and was ultimately unsuccessful in achieving independence, but it inspired future generations of Koreans to continue fighting for their freedom.


During the March 1st Movement, Dong and his church played a vital role in supporting the Korean people’s struggle for independence. He preached the message of independence, and his church members actively participated in the protests. His church served as a haven for activists, providing food, shelter, and medical assistance. They also distributed flyers, organized rallies, and raised funds for the movement.


Dong’s church was one of the few churches supporting the March 1st Movement. Most other churches in Korea at the time were either silent or opposed to the movement. Dong believed that the gospel of Christ and the cause of Korean independence were intertwined, and lived out this belief through his actions.


In recognition of his contribution to the March 1st Movement, Dong was posthumously awarded the Presidential Award by the Korean government in 1996. His legacy as a pioneer of the Restoration Movement in Korea and a champion of Korean independence continues to inspire Koreans today.


In conclusion, Dong Suk-Kee’s contributions to the March 1 Movement and the Korean independence struggle were remarkable. As a Christian pastor and missionary, he saw the importance of fighting for freedom and justice for Koreans and all people. His participation in the movement and his efforts to support the cause through his church and education system shows how crucial it is to stand up for what is right, even in the face of great adversity.


The legacy of Dong Suk-Kee and his church continues to inspire Koreans and people worldwide today, reminding us of the power of faith, community, and the human spirit to overcome oppression and bring about positive change.