South Korea says a North Korean soldier has defected to the South after crossing the heavily fortified border that divides the countries.

The defection is the first in nearly 10 years.

An official at the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday the North Korean officer approached a South Korean guard post Sunday on the western part of the frontier.

The official declined to give additional details and spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was still being investigated.

The communist North's 1.1 million-member military is the backbone of leader Kim Jong Il's totalitarian rule.