"The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed," the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Pence had been briefed on the failed launch en route to Seoul and had been in touch with Trump, the White House aides said. A senior White House official told NBC there was no indication that any change would be made to Vice President Mike Pence's four country, 11-day travel schedule, which had his arrival in Seoul set for Sunday.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed South Korean intelligence source as saying the missile appeared to have not flown far from its land-based launch site.
The North launched a ballistic missile from the same region earlier this month ahead of a summit between the leaders of the United States and China to discuss the North's arms program.
China has spoken out against its missile and nuclear tests and has supported U.N. sanctions. China on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
That missile flew about 60 km (40 miles) but what U.S. officials said appeared to be a liquid-fuelled, extended-range Scud missile only travelled a fraction of its range before spinning out of control.
A U.S. Navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about Trump's plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States.
"[North] Korea missile test fails. But give them credit for trying. Test was in direction of US strike force. Undeterred by US muscle-flexing," Ian Bremmer, the president of consulting firm Eurasia Group and a closely followed political scientist, said in a tweet.
Sinpo, where the launch took place, is the site of a North Korean submarine base and where the North has tested the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) it is developing.
"It appears today's launch was already scheduled for re-launching after the earlier test-firing" Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.
"This launch can possibly be a test for a new type of missile or an upgrade," Kim added.
Tension had escalated sharply in the region amid concerns that the North may conduct a sixth nuclear test or a ballistic missile test launch around the April 15 anniversary it calls the "Day of the Sun."
Ahead of this year's celebration, experts had warned festivities could take on a nuclear element as Kim looked to assert power following Trump's tough stance on the pariah state.