The missile was sacked the day before Donald Trump hosts China's President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The single ballistic missile launched at around 6:42 a.m. Seoul time (5:42 p.m. Tuesday ET) from the area of the port city of Sinpo traveled about 60 kilometers, or just over 37 miles, before crashing into the sea, a South Korean military officer said.
The North, who had home advantage and are ranked 10th in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association to the South's 17th, were favourites to win.
The U.S. Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, said that the missile, which it identified as a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile, was launched from a land-based facility near Sinpo.
A packed crowd at the 40,000-plus capacity Kim Il-Sung stadium stood to hear the South Korean national anthem in respectful silence, before belting out the North's hymn.
That missile was a KN-11, known as the Pukkuksong-1 or Polaris-1.
Seoul and Washington are now analysing both the missile type and the possible range of the missile launched by Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported, adding that it was most likely a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile.
The two leaders spoke on the phone for 35 minutes on Thursday morning, a day after North Korea launched a ballistic missile towards the Sea of Japan, public broadcaster NHK reported. "China summit", said Yhusuke Yamada, a senior strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo.
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The North is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can hit the United States and its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to test-launch one at any time.
It seems unlikely that the president of China will be amenable to any Trump strong-arm tactics.
Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit, perhaps conduct a nuclear test. "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will".
One expert said it could have been a test of a new missile intended as a stepping stone toward developing a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland.
As a result, an Austrian spectator who attended multiple North Korea women's ice hockey team fixtures this week told NK News on condition of anonymity he'd been temporarily removed from the stadium by police for wearing a DPRK jersey and possessing a DPRK flag.
Satellite images taken over the past 10 days have shown a prolonged and heightened level of activity at North Korea's underground testing site, sparking speculation about whether a sixth nuclear test was planned.
The primary concern surrounding North Korea's weapons program is that Pyongyang could eventually equip long-range missiles with a nuclear warhead. The last one, on March 22, exploded shortly after launch. North Korea's state media has also said the world will soon witness what it calls "eventful successes" the country achieves in the space development. During the meeting, the two discussed a plan to curb Pyongyang's missile tests.
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