Officials warned that such a move could crash the South Korean stock market, but the president reportedly ordered staff, "Go do it!"
With an end-of-year deadline looming, tensions are high between the U.S. and North Korea.
The president touted his relationship with the North Korean leader despite tensions escalating as Kim Jong Un imposed a deadline for denuclearization talks.
"Symbolism is very big for Kim. Look, it's business as usual in North Korea," Jack Jacobs told MSNBC.
Little of note has been achieved in the 18 months since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un signed a vague agreement on denuclearization in Singapore.
Mark Esper's announcement comes after Japan's Defense Chief Taro Kono warned the U.S. official that such an "act of goodwill" will not likely persuade North Korea to change his mind.
North Korea has lodged multiple protests over planned joint U.S.-South Korean war games, and said Wednesday it would respond to force in kind.
Pyongyang warned that the planned aerial drill will "throw a wet blanket" on struggling negotiations.
North Korea fired two missiles into the sea off its eastern coast on Thursday as denuclearization negotiations with the U.S. remain stalled.
Twenty-seven percent of U.S. adults view Trump as the largest threat to world peace, compared with Kim (22 percent) and Putin (15 percent).
It comes after Pyongyang released propaganda images showing Kim galloping on horseback through snowy mountains on his way up to Mount Paektu.
Analysts believe the symbolic journey to Mount Paektu signals the possibility of new missile tests, or even a North Korean expedition into space.
Trump may see a deal with Kim as his best chance for a major victory. But fallout from our domestic politics is so toxic it might scuttle the agreement—no matter its terms. This would be a massive mistake.
The Korean Central News Agency said that Wednesday's test was of "great significance" and involved a Pukguksong-3 missile.
The test came just one day after the North announced it would resume denuclearization talks with the U.S. this weekend.
Ex-White House national security adviser John Bolton rebuked President Donald Trump's repeated North Korea disarmament claims, declaring Monday that Kim Jong-Un "will never give up its nuclear weapons voluntarily."
President Donald Trump claims that he would win a Nobel Peace Prize but that they are not given out "fairly."
Kim Myong Gil said Friday he welcomed Trump's suggestion that a "new method" could achieve success in talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
Dan Smith of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute suggested nuclear weapon development was continuing despite rapprochement with the U.S.
Pyongyang has conducted seven rounds of short-range missile tests since July with denuclearization talks with the U.S. in limbo.
Victor Cha was nominated to become Trump's ambassador to South Korea but was dropped after warning the White House against a pre-emptive strike on the North.
"It's not a stretch to say that Donald Trump's most lasting legacy may well be writing what he calls love letters to a dictator in North Korea," Joe Scarborough said.
South Korean media reported early Saturday that North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the country's latest act of defiance in protest of the drills, which the country has always objected to.
Two short-range ballistic missiles were launched on Wednesday in North Korea's second such test in less than a week.
Kim Dong Chul was one of three American citizens released from North Korean prisons and returned to the U.S. in 2018.
The latest test is sure to increase tensions as Pyongyang and Washington attempt to restart talks on denuclearization and sanctions relief.
Reports suggested the new submarine may have been designed to carry and launch ballistic missiles, which could in future be tipped with nuclear warheads.
Pictures were hung up of leaders that President Donald Trump has met so far this year.
The correlation between the 40th and 45th U.S. presidents, especially on foreign policy, is deliberate and systematic, not simply coincidental.
"President Obama was handed the Nobel Peace Prize, but President Trump is on his way to actually earning one," Conway said.