North Korea made a failed attempt to launch a missile Saturday, the latest in a string of provocations surrounding its nuclear weapons program.
The missile launch coincided with the 105th birthday of the Kim regime's founder, Kim Il Sung. A military parade featuring a high profile viewing of large missile systems not shown before by Pyongyang. Last year, the regime also tested a missile on April 15, to mark Kim's birthday.
His grandson, Kim Jong Un, now rules the mercurial communist dictatorship.
Vice President Mike Pence is en route to Seoul, the first stop on a preplanned trip to four Pacific Rim nations. He was already scheduled to discuss regional security concerns relating to North Korea with South Korean leaders.
The test fell short of observers' worst-case scenario, that North Korea would conduct a sixth nuclear test to coincide with Pence's visit.
A Pence spokesmen said the vice president's most important message to the South Koreans was to reaffirm the United States' "ironclad" commitment to the South's defense in the face of North Korean aggression.
President Donald Trump this week urged the Chinese, one of the few nations with diplomatic ties to the Kim regime, to intervene on behalf of regional stability. If not, Trump said the United States would be prepared to act unilaterally to curtail North Korea's march toward a nuclear weapon deliverable on a missile, which, if achieved, would pose a grave threat to neighboring South Korea, Japan and China itself.
North Korea has not shown the capability of creating long-range missiles, they type that could reach the West Coast of the United States.
North Korea has conducted 50 known missile tests like Saturday's since Kim Jong Un took power after his father's death in 2011.