North Korea launched an apparent medium-range ballistic missile Sunday in what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe termed a "challenge to the world."

The U.S. Pacific Command said it detected and tracked the launch at 4:59 p.m. of a "medium-range ballistic missile" from near Pukchang, in the central portion of North Korea. It said the missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan.

According to the South Korean military, the missile flew some 500 km (over 300 miles), reaching an altitude of about 560 km (350 miles), the Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean military official as saying.