By Paula Hancocks
A U.S. general in Korea who reportedly said that American troops parachute into North Korea to spy has admitted he was not misquoted in the speech – but that he misspoke.
Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, made the comments during a speech at a conference in Florida last week. The Diplomat, a magazine based in Japan, quoted Tolley as saying in the speech that U.S. troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities.
Amidst the ensuing controversy, the Pentagon accused the reporter of the piece, David Axe, of misreporting the speech.
“My understanding is that the general's comments were contorted, distorted, misreported and that, you know, there is in no way any substance to the assertion,” Defense Department spokesman George Little said Tuesday
U.S. Forces Korea tell CNN they do not have an actual transcript of the event.
On Wednesday, Tolley offered his take.
“After further review of the reporting, I feel I was accurately quoted,” he said. “In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. I realize I wasn’t clear in how I presented my remarks.”
He insisted, however, that the United States has at no time sent special operations forces into North Korea.
Such cross-border operations into North Korea would be in violation of the 1953 armistice agreement that brought the Korean War to an end.
The existence of such operations would also jeopardize already strained and sensitive relations between Washington and Pyongyang.