Seunghoon Chae

DPhil, MPhil, BA

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow
St John's College
Office address
Room 123a, Manor Road Building, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UQ

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Department and a member of St John's College. Prior to commencing this research fellowship, I was awarded a DPhil in Politics from Nuffield College, University of Oxford, on 19 May 2022.

Broadly speaking, my research explores the functionality of states during (and after) crises. I am primarily interested in how state functionality affects political violence. My dissertation has focused on state capacity's relationship with terrorism and human rights. Two of my dissertation chapters have been published or accepted for publication in the Journal of Peace Research. One chapter argues that state capacity can serve as a double-edged sword: a well-functioning state can rein in unwanted acts of violence perpetrated by rogue agents; but at the same time, it can also adroitly execute any violence the principal intends to commit. The other chapter argues that state capacity’s effect on domestic terrorism is conditional on the type of regime, reducing more domestic terrorism in the “middle”.

Meanwhile, the pandemic provided me with an opportunity to expand my research into questions concerning the states' responses to COVID-19. Due to the complex and ongoing nature of this phenomenon, conventional methods could not generate robust conclusions. Naturally, I expanded my methodological toolbox to address concerns over inference. For instance, in a co-authored paper, we use difference-in-difference models to evaluate whether financial penalties increased the effectiveness of lockdowns in Germany. This paper has been published in the American Journal of Public Health. As a research associate of the OxCGRT (Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker) team, I enjoy exchanging ideas with like-minded scholars about what we could learn from our experience with the pandemic.

My Leverhulme project continues to explore state functionality under extraordinary circumstances. First, I am in the process of generating a Geo-coded Korean War Dataset, recording the number of civilian deaths at the subnational level. I am interested to learn how local military capacity affected the use of civilian killings as a military tactic. I would also like to compare the effects of retreating and advancing forces, since the frontline moved multiple times. Second, I will investigate the pandemic's lasting effects on the state. Using vignette and list experiments, for instance, I plan to assess whether the state's failures during the pandemic reduce citizens' willingness to pay their taxes.

In terms of teaching, I am currently one of the lab instructors for the undergraduate Quantitative Research Methods (Q-step 2) course in the Department. I have experience teaching undergraduate Comparative Government tutorials for various Oxford Colleges. In 2022, I have also taught MPP (Master of Public Policy) students at the Blavatnik School of Government.


Chae, S. (2023) "How Did State Capacity Shape COVID-19 Responses? Targeted Versus Population-wide Restrictions.” (Accepted for Publication) Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

Chae, S. & Kim, W. (2023) “State capacity matters in ‘the middle’: A new perspective on domestic terrorism.” Journal of Peace Research (Online First).

Chae, S., Park, H. & Kim, W. (2022) “At Odds? How European Governments Decided on Public Health Restrictions During COVID-19.” Public Health 205: 164-168.

Chae, S. (2021) “Are Stronger States More Humane? A Re-evaluation of ‘Exemplary Villains’.” Journal of Peace Research 58 (4): 702-718.

Chae, S. & Park, H. (2020) “Effectiveness of Penalties for Lockdown Violations During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany.” American Journal of Public Health 110 (12): 1844-1849.