SEOUL, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A North Korean soldier defected to the South across the heavily guarded demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas.
The defection could have taken place either Thursday morning or on the previous night. A Seoul Joint Chiefs of Staff official said the soldier was found in the morning, but it was not yet confirmed when he had crossed to the South, Newsis reported.
The soldier was located by a South Korean guard on duty at the DMZ who identified an "unknown object" then reported the finding to his military situation room.
Using military surveillance equipment, the troops were able to identify the man as a North Korean soldier.
By 10 a.m. the South Korean military had "secured" the defector and is in the process of "investigating his motives" for escaping from North Korea at a joint interrogation center.
The North Korean soldier at the time of his defection was unarmed, Yonhap reported. No gunshots were exchanged as he made his way across the DMZ and traveled over the military demarcation line that bisects the zone, according to Seoul.
"[The South Korean] military is closely watching North Korean troop movements in case of an emergency," the Joint Chiefs official said.
This is the first time North Korean military personnel has crossed the DMZ since June 2015.
From 2010 to August 2016 a total of 74 North Korean soldiers and civilians have crossed the minefields of the DMZ to escape to the South.