SEOUL, OCT. 10 (SATURDAY) -- Opposition leader Kim Young Sam formally declared his candidacy for president today, a move that risked dividing South Korea's main opposition party in the election to be held in the next 10 weeks.

At a hastily arranged news conference, Kim said he had failed to reach agreement with his opposition rival, Kim Dae Jung, on which man should lead a unified opposition campaign against the government candidate, Roh Tae Woo. Underlining the division between the opposition leaders, Kim Young Sam told reporters that he had not consulted Kim Dae Jung on today's announcement.

{Kim Dae Jung, after hearing about Kim Young Sam's announcement, said he was "a bit surprised" at the timing, but wished his rival "good luck and honor," The Associated Press reported.}

Kim Dae Jung, who tested the waters with a campaign tour in the provinces last month, has said he would announce next week whether he will run.

Analysts here say a split between the two Kims would significantly increase the chances of a victory by Roh and the ruling Democratic Justice Party.

Kim Young Sam accused the government of a vote-buying campaign, in which an aide said officials had given sums of money to thousands of middle and lower-level civil servants to distribute in their home villages during a harvest holiday this weekend.

Kim's camp offered no evidence for the charge, but said that, as a result of the vote buying, they could no longer delay Kim's campaign.

The two Kims, as the opposition leaders are called, had set a Sept. 30 deadline for deciding which one would be the opposition candidate. But their intense negotiations broke down during a head-to-head meeting 10 days ago. Then, each of the Kims demanded that the other step aside -- and each refused to do so.

Kim Young Sam, president of the main opposition Reunification Democratic Party, said he would continue to seek dialogue with Kim Dae Jung in order to reach a decision on a unified opposition slate. But, according to a senior aide, Kim Young Sam has no intention of withdrawing his candidacy.

The opposition party plans to hold its nominating convention on Oct. 27. If Kim Dae Jung officially declares his candidacy next week, there could be a showdown at the convention.

However, aides to the two Kims said there is still a chance that an accord could be reached before the convention.

Much will depend on whether one of the Kims emerges in the next few weeks as the clear front-runner among opposition supporters.