North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) just hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan were due to meet for landmark talks.
Both Japanese and South Korean officials confirmed the long-range missile’s launch on Thursday morning.
It flew about 1,000km (620 miles) landing in waters west of Japan.
It is Pyongyang’s fourth missile launch in a week and comes as the US and South Korea hold joint navy drills.
The other missiles launched – last Thursday, on Saturday and on Monday – had been short-range ballistic missiles.
North Korea’s ramped-up missile activity will most likely be top of the agenda when South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol meets Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo later on Thursday – the first of such visit in 12 years.