The launch was the eighth of its kind this year as Pyongyang is testing the precision of its weapons technology and pressuring the United States into offering concessions like sanctions relief.

A missile was launched during what state media report is a hypersonic missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
A missile was launched during what state media report is a hypersonic missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Reuters)

North Korea has fired an "unidentified projectile," South Korea's military said, in what would be Pyongyang's eighth launch this year after a month of relative calm on the peninsula during the Beijing Olympics.

"North Korea fired an unidentified projectile eastward," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Sunday, without giving further details.

Japan also confirmed Sunday's launch, with a defence ministry spokesman telling AFP news agency that "potential ballistic missile(s)" were fired from North Korea, without specifying how many.

Japan's coastguard issued a warning to vessels about a "potentially ballistic missile possibly launched from North Korea".

The United States condemned the launch and called on Pyongyang to refrain from further destabilising acts, the US military's Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

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Record-breaking tests

Pyongyang carried out a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests last month, including its most powerful missile since 2017.

High-profile negotiations between then-US President Donald Trump and the country's leader Kim Jong Un followed, but collapsed in 2019.

Since then, talks with the US have stalled, and the country is reeling economically from international sanctions and a self-imposed coronavirus blockade.

Under Trump's successor Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly declared its willingness to meet North Korean representatives, while saying it will seek denuclearisation.

But Pyongyang has so far dismissed the offer, accusing Washington of pursuing "hostile" policies.

Pyongyang has doubled down on military development, warning last month that it could abandon a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear weapons tests.

READ MORE: North Korea 'shaking the world' by testing missiles with US in range

Distracted by Ukraine

North Korea paused its weapons testing during the Winter Olympic Games, likely out of deference to its only major ally China, analysts have said.

But with the international community distracted by Russia's attack on Ukraine, many analysts had expected North Korea to seize the opportunity to restart testing.

Japan’s foreign minister Masayoshi was on live TV speaking about Ukraine when news of North's launch broke.

"This situation in Ukraine is not something that stays just in Ukraine or in Europe. But it could potentially affect the entire world, or Indo-Pacific region or in East Asia in our view," he said.

South Korea said it will join international economic sanctions against Russia and, as a key US security ally, Seoul is closely watching Washington's response to Moscow's aggression, according to local reports.

READ MORE: North Korea continues to produce nuke material despite sanctions: UN

Source: TRTWorld and agencies