South Korea and the US said the missile exploded within seconds of launch from the Gangwon province, in the hermit country's south-east.
"North Korea fired one missile from an area near the Wonsan air base this morning [March 22], but it is presumed to have failed," said South Korea's Defense Ministry in a brief statement.
Neither the US nor South Korea have released information on what type of missile was fired, or why it failed.
The US Pacific Command said it was working with partners to assess the matter further.
The test comes amid heightening tensions in the Korean Peninsula after a series of missile tests from the North and subsequent threats of military action from the US.
In a response to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent talk of tougher sanctions against the reclusive state, North Korea's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Wednesday, March 22, proclaiming that they are ready for war.
"The nuclear force of North Korea is the treasured sword of justice and the most reliable war deterrence to defend the socialist motherland and the life of its people," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.
"We have the will and capability to fully respond to any war which the US wants. If the businessmen-turned-US officials thought that they would frighten us, they would soon recognize that their method would not work."
After a visit of the heavily militarized border between the rival Koreas last week, Tillerson said: "Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended.
"We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table."
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years. China has done little to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
Pyongyang fired four ballistic missiles, three of which landed as close as 190 miles to the Japanese coast on March 6, causing concern among its neighbors.
China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying again called on all parties on the Korean Peninsula, to "exercise restraint."
"The current situation on the peninsula is extremely tense, 'everyone with his dagger drawn' would be a fair description," she said.
North Korea's missile testing coincides with the US and South Korea's joint military drills in the South, which began on March 1.
The drills occur annually and are set to last until the end of April.
The US deployed an aircraft carrier, a nuclear-powered submarine and thousands of troops to supplement the South's soldiers and artillery on show.