SEOUL:– An explosion almost immediately after launch was behind the failure of North Korea's latest test-firing of a powerful medium-range missile, the South Korean military confirmed Monday. North Korea tested a Musudan missile - capable of hitting US bases as far away as Guam - shortly after midday Saturday near an air base in the northwestern city of Kusong. Such launches are usually reported within a few hours or even minutes by South Korean and US military monitors, but the news of Saturday's test only came out around 16 hours after the event.–AFP

"North Korea's missile launch failed shortly after lift-off so a considerable amount of time was needed to analyse it," a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official told reporters Monday.

A defence ministry spokesman confirmed the missile exploded soon after lift-off, in the very initial stage of the launch.