Pence told reporters near the DMZ that President Donald Trump was hopeful China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program, a day after the North's failed missile test launch.
The United States has more than 28,000 troops in South Korea and powerful assets at sea and in air bases around the region, but North Korea has artillery within range of Seoul.
Speaking from the deck of the aircraft carrier "USS Ronald Reagan", docked in Yokosuka, Japan, Pence told 2,500 American sailors that North Korea is "the most unsafe and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific".
"We've seen some tangible indications that they're working towards this end, but it's still quite early", said Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for East Asian affairs.
"Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilised nations can allow to happen", he said in reference to Kim. According to US officials, the missile exploded four to five seconds after being launched from a location near a North Korean submarine base in Sinpo along the country's eastern coast.
Pence's statement came just two days after the North Korean government conducted a huge display of prototype intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade observing the 105th birthday of the communist state's late founding leader and "eternal president" Kim Il-sung in the capital Pyongyang on April 15.
"We made this decision to deploy THAAD". For its part, China says the system's powerful radar is a threat to its security. -South Korean military exercises now include training for precision strikes on the North's leadership or nuclear and military facilities.
Pointing to the quarter-century since the United States first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience had followed.More news: Augmented reality will be Facebook's next big push, starting with smartphone cameras
Since Donald Trump took office, North Korea has launched at least eight ballistic missiles, and there is evidence that the North is preparing for a sixth nuclear test.
In a statement after the talks, the two sides said they had agreed the dialogue should produce "concrete results in the near term". The latest draft statement dropped "through dialogue" and Russian Federation requested it be included again.
"I would see such an action as escalatory, but I couldn't guess how Kim Jong-un would interpret it", said Abraham Denmark, former senior Pentagon policy official for Asia in Barack Obama's administration, told the Guardian.
Experts point out that China also wants to prevent North Korea from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power - and certainly wants to prevent a war on its southern border that could send millions of refugees flooding into China and potentially risk bringing a United States military presence to China's borders.
Trump in January signed an executive order to officially withdraw the USA from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Through three American administrations, the US and its allies had worked tirelessly to peacefully dismantle the nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people.
"In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only US imperialists' invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the USA mainland and reduce them to ashes".