(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, paras 4-5 with new info)
SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean soldier crossed the inter-Korean land border and expressed a desire to defect to South Korea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Thursday.
The man was spotted moving southward along the Imjin River after crossing the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the central part of the inter-Korean border at around 11:38 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the JCS.
After confirming that an unidentified object spotted by our thermal observation devices was a person, our military took him safely into custody in accordance with due protocol, the JCS said.
"The man is an active-duty soldier, and he expressed his desire to defect to the South. Related procedures are underway," a JCS officer said without elaborating.
The North Korean military in the border regions has not shown any unusual movements, according to the JCS.
The last such incident took place in December last year when a North Korean soldier fled to the South after crossing the eastern part of the inter-Korean border.
Fresh tensions brewing in Seoul-Tokyo ties over court procedure to sell off Japanese assets
Reform committee's recommendations to diffuse chief prosecutor's power draw backlash
After six months, pandemic accelerates arrival of contactless future in S. Korea
1 year after workplace anti-bullying law took effect, challenges remain
N.K. seeks to distract from domestic hardships with liaison office demolition: experts