A short-range missile has been test fired by North Korea on its east coast, according to the South’s officials.
The action appeared to be another response to ongoing joint military drills by Seoul and Washington.
Seoul said the missile was launched from near the North’s coastal town of Wonsan, flew northeast for about 125 miles and then “made contact” with the mainland.
The South said it was “monitoring the situation closely and standing ready for any situations” amid tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
It is the third such launch by Kim Jong-un’s regime in the last two weeks, amid military exercises involving South Korea and the US, the largest ever carried out by the two nations.
Washington and Seoul say the annual war games are a defensive measure, but Pyongyang has accused them of being a rehearsal for an invasion.
Relations have rapidly worsened in the region since the North carried out its fourth atomic test in January, leading to rising tensions.
It is unclear whether the secretive state intended to use a land target to test the accuracy and range of its weapons.
Or whether it had planned a launch into the sea and experienced problems, said a South Korean official.
Pyongyang’s military has fired a number of short-range missiles and shells into the sea in recent weeks.
Experts say the North’s new artillery launchers could theoretically fire shells reaching Seoul, where almost 25 million South Koreans live.
China’s foreign ministry has called for “calm and restraint” at a press conference in Beijing.
A spokesman urged both sides not to “take actions or deliver words that irritate each other, and work to maintain peace and stability.”