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Dora Kim Moon's life is an example of the important role played by Korean women in building the Korean community in Hawai'i.
In 1903, when Koreans were being recruited for Hawai'i's sugar plantations, she was asked by the Methodists to go on one of the early voyages and serve as a "Bible woman," or missionary. Traveling with her child on the twenty-two-day passage, Dora comforted the sick and converted many of the immigrants to Christianity. She also met a scholarly man named Hong Suk Moon, whom she married shortly after the ship arrived in Honolulu.
With several other women, she formed a prayer group that, by 1905, had become the First Korean Methodist Church.
As more Korean women began to arrive in Hawai'i as picture brides, Dora started the Korean Women's Club, which taught reading and writing, and after the March first demonstration, she supported the independence movement. She later helped form the Korean Women's Relief Society, which further aided patriots in Korea, as well as their families.
In 1931, Dora was appointed by the Methodist mission in Hawai'i to become a preacher. The following year, she started the Korean Missionary Society, which supported missionary work in Korea. By 1940, the First Korean Methodist Church had grown to more than four hundred members, and Dora held a major church office. During World War II, she rolled bandages for the American Red Cross. Until her death in 1971, at age ninety-three, she continued to serve the community.
Adapted from Notable Women of Hawai'i
"Dora Moon" sidebar adapted from Notable Women of Hawaii, edited by Barbara Bennett Peterson, University of Hawai'i Press, © 1984.