South Korean guards fired up to 20 warning shots at North Korean troops searching for a fleeing soldier, this morning.
Officials in the South confirmed that the defector had escaped across the heavily militarised border, which separates the two countries.
The low-ranking soldier crossed the border at around 8.04am (11.04pm GMT), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said.
Officials used surveillance equipment to detect the defecting soldier, despite heavy fog causing limited visibility.
No shots were fired at the soldier – however South Korean troops fired 20 rounds from a K-3 machine in a bid to warn off the guards.
Mr Jae-cheon said: ‘Today a North Korean soldier defected through our military’s general outpost in the centre-western region.
‘Our military secured his safety, and a questioning will be conducted by related agencies to find out the background of his defection and motive.’
Today’s defection came about five weeks after another North Korean soldier, named Oh Chong Songbeen, suffered critical gunshot wounds during a dash across the border on November 13.
He was transferred to a military hospital from a trauma centre at Ajou University Hospital south of Seoul, following the incident.
He was forced to undergo two major operations to treat the gunshot wounds and pre-existing conditions.
Two North Korean civilians were also found in a fishing boat this week attempting to defect, officials in the South said.
Their claim for asylum was being investigated.
There was no immediate comment from the secretive North about the latest incidents.
The defections come at a time of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula because of North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, which it is pursuing in defiance of international pressure that includes United Nations resolutions.
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