South Korea's military said North Korea fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile on July 9 but the launch failed in the early stages of flight.
The launch off the Korean peninsula's eastern coast is the latest test in efforts by the North to advance technology capable of delivering nuclear warheads.
It comes a day after the United States and South Korea pledged to deploy an antimissile system to counter threats from Pyongyang.
Earlier this week, North Korea warned it was planning its toughest response to what it described as a "declaration of war" by the United States after Washington blacklisted the nation's leader Kim Jong Un for alleged human rights abuses.
The U.S. State Department condemned said the latest missile test violated UN Security Council resolutions.
"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments," the State Department said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also denounced the July 9 test as a "clear challenge to UN Security Council resolutions."
The North has conducted a string of military tests that began in January with its fourth nuclear test and included the launch of a long-range rocket the following month.
The UN Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the country in response to North Korea's fourth nuclear test and the long-range rocket.
Pyongyang also conducted a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile in April, calling it a "great success" that provided "one more means for powerful nuclear attack."