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Horace Grant Underwood.
Horace Grant Underwood. ()

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. Forces Korea community is mourning the loss of Dr. Horace Grant Underwood, the legendary interpreter at the Korean War armistice talks and one of the most famous of “non-Korean Koreans,” who died Thursday night in Seoul at the age of 86.

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Leon LaPorte remarked on Underwood’s “unparalleled service to his country and his adopted country, South Korea,” in a release issued Friday.

“His life’s work contributed immeasurably to the good relationship between the people of the Republic of Korea and the people of the United States,” LaPorte said.

“His many years of mentoring as an educator in Korea, serving as a senior interpreter at the Armistice Talks during the Korean War, serving on my Commander’s Korea Advisory Council, and as vice president of the Korean American Association are just a few of his many selfless contributions.”

According to his biography, “Korea in War, Revolution and Peace: The Recollections of Horace G. Underwood,” he was born in Seoul in 1917 as the third generation of an American family whose lives became intertwined with Korean history.

His grandfather had come to Korea as a missionary in 1885, establishing Chosun Christian College. That institution later became Yonsei University, now one of the best in South Korea.

In the biography, Underwood recounts personal stories of a lifetime that witnessed two major wars and South Korea’s later struggle to democracy. Underwood, who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was awarded the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and the Freedom Medal, among others, officials said.

“Dr. Underwood was a great human being who will not be forgotten. We shall miss him greatly,” LaPorte said in the statement.

A memorial service hosted by the Royal Asian Society was to be held Saturday in Seoul, officials said.

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