South Korea's Defense Ministry says a suspected powerful midrange North Korean missile has crashed seconds after liftoff.

If confirmed to be the same type of missile, Thursday's launch is the second such failure in recent weeks. It's particularly embarrassing as it comes ahead of a major ruling party meeting next week in Pyongyang.

A Defense Ministry official says the launch was likely the second attempt for the inaugural test of a Musudan, a new, powerful midrange missile that could one day be capable of reaching far-off U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific. It exploded in the air a few seconds after liftoff.

The launch comes as the Koreas trade threats amid Pyongyang's anger over annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that North Korea calls a rehearsal for an invasion.