People Feature

Seung Hoon Chae

DPhil in Politics

Research Interests: State capacity as a moderating variable in the study of human rights, terrorism, and COVID-19. .

I am a DPhil student at Nuffield College, Oxford University. I have recently returned from three years of military service as a lieutenant in the Korean Army, where I developed a strong interest in the state's role in preserving national security. During the military service, I published a solo-authored article in the Journal of Peace Research that investigates how state capacity and regime type can jointly affect the protection of human rights. At the same time, I also published an article in the American Journal of Public Health, in which I use difference-in-difference models to evaluate whether financial penalties increased the effectiveness of lockdowns in Germany.

I am currently involved in a number of exciting projects. On the one hand, I am working together with an economist colleague from the Korean military to understand the relationship between state capacity and terrorism. State capacity, we believe, can crucially alter the effectiveness of foreign aid and democracy for reducing terrorism. At the same time, I am part of various research projects on COVID-19. For instance, I have joined a project funded by the Korean government that seeks to explain why COVID-19 vaccinations have slowed down in developed countries. Using regression discontinuity designs, we find that reports of vaccine side-effects significantly affected the vaccination rates in the US and the UK. In another project, I am also working with others to study the reasons why some countries implemented stricter health restrictions than others.

In the future, I will continue to investigate how a state's capacity affects its response to both traditional (human rights, conflict, and terrorism) and emerging (COVID-19) security issues. In particular, I plan to study how state capacity can affect different types of rights differently, whether state capacity influences the amount of "crowding out effect" foreign aid has on terrorism, and if more capable states were able to implement some COVID-19 restrictions better than others. I also believe that there is ample room for interdisciplinary research between the fields of public health and political science. Specifically, I hope to join the growing scholarship concerning the effects political institutions had on COVID-19 responses.

Seung Hoon Chae


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.

Chae, S. (2016) 'The Causes of Voice after Exit: A study of North Korean refugees in the UK', Retrieved from the Bodleian Library, 2016.