Seoul says a teenage North Korean soldier has defected to the South by crossing the heavily guarded border between the two Koreas.

An official at South Korea's defense ministry said Monday that the serviceman, believed to be in his late teens, walked across the border about 8 a.m. through the central eastern front. The ministry official requested anonymity citing office rules.

No gunfire was exchanged. The serviceman told the ministry that he was beaten regularly and had grievances about the North Korean regime, according to the official.

It is not common for North Koreans to defect to the South via the land border dividing the Koreas. In 2012, a North Korean soldier walked to south of barbed-wire fences without getting caught by guards. Most defectors enter South Korea via China.