South Korean guards fired up to 20 warning shots at North Korean troops searching for a soldier who had defected on Thursday, 21 December, Yonhap news agency said, after officials in the South confirmed the latest defection across the heavily militarised border.
The defection came about five weeks after another North Korean soldier suffered critical gunshot wounds during a dash across the border on 13 November.
Two North Korean civilians found in a fishing boat had also sought to defect, officials in the South said. 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.
In the latest North Korean military defection, a low-ranking soldier crossed the border at around 23:04 GMT on Wednesday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said. No shots were fired at the soldier, Roh said.
Surveillance equipment detected the defecting soldier despite heavy fog that limited visibility to about 100 metres (110 yards), Roh later told a briefing.
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, etc.Roh Jae-cheon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman
Reuters was unable to immediately confirm Yonhap's report about warning shots being fired from the South as North Korean troops searched for the defecting soldier and few other details were available.
The North Korean soldier who was shot several times during a daring dash across the border on 13 November has since been identified as 24-year-old Oh Chong Songbeen.
Intelligence officials said they would soon begin questioning Oh.
(The article has been edited for length.)