SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A young North Korean soldier escaped to South Korea through the inter-Korean border on Thursday, the South's military said.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a low-ranking soldier presumed to be 19 years of age appeared in front of a South Korean guard post at around 8:04 a.m.
North Korean border guards came looking for the escapee at around 9:24 a.m., nearing the military demarcation line.
The South fired 20 warning shots at the party with K-3 machine guns and sent warning messages.
After 40 minutes of silence, several gunshots were heard from the North's side at around 10:13 a.m. and, again, three minutes later.
A JCS official said there no bullets were found to have crossed the border and there was no detection of unusual movements after that.
The young soldier's defection comes 38 days after a North Korean soldier streaked across the Joint Security Area, receiving multiple bullets as he fled to the South.
Also on Thursday, Seoul's Unification Ministry said two North Korean men defected to South Korea via boat, crossing the inter-Korean maritime border in the East Sea.
The South Korean Coast guard discovered the small wooden vessel about 62 miles north of the Dokdo islets at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a ministry official.
The official said background checks on the two men have begun.
15 North Koreans including four North Korean soldiers this year escaped directly to the South, according to the JCS.