US Vice-President Mike Pence was due to meet North Korean officials at the Winter Olympics last week, US officials have said, but the North Koreans pulled out at the last moment.
Mr Pence was in South Korea for the opening of the Winter Olympics.
A spokesman said he was scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, among others.
It would have been the first official interaction between North Korea and the Trump administration.
North Korea has made no comment on the US reports.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said when the "possibility arose" of a brief meeting with the North Korean delegation, Mr Pence "was ready to take this opportunity to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs".
"At the last minute, DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] officials decided not to go forward with the meeting. We regret their failure to seize this opportunity," she said in a statement.
The US - among others - has warned against easing pressure on the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear programme and improve their human rights situation.
Mr Pence was criticised by some for not engaging diplomatically with the North Koreans while in South Korea.
He sat feet away from Kim Yo-jong - who is accused of human rights violations - at the Games but did not interact with her, saying: "I didn't believe it was proper for the United States of America to give her any attention in that forum."
On leaving the Games, Mr Pence said the US and its allies remained firmly aligned on North Korea
"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programme."
However, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has said he is considering accepting an invitation to visit Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.
It would be the first summit in more than a decade between Korean leaders.