James Oh Jong-rye (1821-1840)
James Oh Jong-rye was born to a noble family in Eunjin, Chungcheong-do. He learned the catechism from an early age and practiced it faithfully. As an adult, he taught his family the Catholic teaching and tried to proclaim the Good News to his neighbors.
James Oh lived in Gosan, Jeolla-do after his marriage. He was arrested in Jinsan on July, 1839, with his elder brother and a number of Catholics, while he was visiting his elder brother‘s house.
He was taken to Jeonju and was interrogated by the chief official. He said, "You are still young. If you promise you will not believe in the Catholic religion, I will release you." James Oh replied; "I know the happiness of worshipping the Lord, so, how can I betray Him out of fear of punishment?"
The chief official, on realizing that James Oh would not succumb to his sweet words, ordered that he be tortured. Taken again to the governor, James Oh was tortured repeatedly. He endured it with heroic courage. He was given the death sentence. That was what he had wanted for a long time, but, he had to suffer the pain of seeing his elder brother apostatizing.
Returning to his prison cell, James Oh shared his pains with others who professed their faith. They were abandoned in their prison cells for several months. Finally the process for their death sentences was arranged and the date of execution was fixed. On January 4, 1840 (November 30, 1839 by the Lunar calendar), James Oh and his companions were taken to the execution ground, beheaded and died martyrs. James Oh was 19 years old.
The following is an excerpt from the written death sentence on James Oh:
"Oh Jong-rye has been deeply imbued with the Catholic teaching since he was young. He taught his family the catechism and proclaimed it to his neighbors. He memorized the Ten Commandments and said he cannot give up the teaching of the Church. He had five sessions of interrogation and torture but confessed that he experiences great joy in his heart. Therefore, we cannot allow such a monster to stay in our clean world."