Kim Jong Un Missile
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un takes a close look during a missile test launchReuters

North Korea's test launch of a suspected mid range missile capable of reaching US bases in the Pacific failed for the second time in only a few weeks, South Korean officials have alleged. The missile reportedly exploded seconds after lift-off near the eastern port city of Wonsan on 28 April.

The rocket was believed to be a Musudan, a powerful model with a range of more than 3,000 km, potentially able to strike the remote US military base on the island of Guam, as well as other areas deep into Asia.

"The projectile, presumed to be a Musudan, was fired around 6:40 a.m. from the vicinity of Wonsan, but it appears to have plunged to the earth a few seconds later," a defence official speaking on condition of anonymity told Yonhap news agency. "It is highly likely that the launch failed."

It was the second botched attempt by North Korean to launch a Musudan in a month. The first missile fired on 15 April to mark the birthday of the hermit kingdom's founder Kim Il-Sung, crashed into the sea.

The second successive failure will cause embarrassment to Kim Jong-un as the dictator prepares to preside over a key meeting of the ruling party meeting next week. The failure also comes amid heightened tensions in the region which followed a nuclear test and the launch of another long-range rocket by Pyongyang in early 2016.