Missile test flop for Pyongyang as Washington, Seoul hold nuclear talks

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on Monday

Japan, another regional US ally, has also expressed concern over militant rhetoric from North Korea, and conducted its first-ever civilian air raid drills last week after Pyongyang launched a barrage of missiles into the sea near Japanese territory.

Yohap News reported that the propaganda channel then announced that the on-going military drills between South Korea and the USA have "given up all pretenses of being a defensive operation and instead have openly stated the intent to assassinate the North's leadership".

The launch attempt was made from near the city of Wonsan, on North Korea's east coast, the same site from which were launched several intermediate-range missiles a year ago, all but one of which failed.

The reclusive regime has ignored warnings from its neighbouring nations and the USA and continued its nuclear pursuit.

North Korea also fired four ballistic missiles nearly simultaneously into the East Sea on March 6, with three of them falling near Japan's waters.

"A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch", U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said in a statement.

"The government has asked North Korea to provide written assurances for the safety of South Korean football players", Yonhap quoted a ministry official as saying.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has vowed to expand his country's missile capabilities, while repeatedly threatening strikes against South Korea, Japan, United States, and the West in general, according to Newsweek.

If Benham's assessment is accurate, the missile failure could be consistent with a report earlier this month that elaborated on a secret "cyberwar" targeting North Korea's controversial missile and weapons programs.

Earlier this week, North Korea released a video showing a simulated attack on the Vinson as well as a U.S. B-1B Lancer, accompanied by bellicose language.

That could mean striking at North Korea's facilities for launching or producing ballistic missiles or its nuclear facilities. And just as the secretary wrapped up the trip, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued yet another reminder of the high-stakes game U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is playing. The long-range heavy bomber was joined by South Korean F-15K Slam Eagles and F-16 fighter jets.

The Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul published the results Monday of a study measuring South Korean favorability ratings for the United States, China, Japan and North Korea based on a national survey of 1,000 respondents from across the country.

Trump chastised North Korea, tweeting that the nation had been "playing the United States for years" and then punched over to China, adding, "China has done little to help!" "We of course are not afraid of any act like that", Choe said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has this week flagged a "new approach" for denuclearising North Korea.

"They will eventually learn. and no amount of sanctions and isolation will slow them", he said.

The Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, told the Wall Street Journal the situation in North Korea had "gone into a new phase".