I am an Assistant Professor at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). I graduated from the Department of Politics at New York University in 2014. Before my Ph.D. at NYU, I studied political science, economics (B.A.) and international relations (M.S.) at Seoul National University, Korea.
Comparative Political Institutions
Legacy Of Authoritarianism
My research interest centers on the political economy of authoritarian regimes, with particular attention to East Asian countries including China, South Korea, and Taiwan. I have various ongoing research projects related to resource-dependent economic development, social legacy of authoritarian past, and long-term impact of political violence. My research is published or forthcoming in Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, and Economic History Review.
How does natural resource extraction affect ethnic violence in a strong authoritarian state? This study investigates the effects of oil and natural gas development on violent incidents in Xinjiang, China, using data from its eighty-six counties. Contrary to the resource curse claim, we find that areas with larger quantities of resource production have lower rates of violence. The analysis of reserves data confirms that this finding is not driven by endogeneity between violence and resource production. This soothing effect of resources subsides, however, in areas with high mosque density. While we find no supporting evidence that drastic ethno-demographic changes or strengthening of public security are associated with resource extraction, the analysis shows that resource development contributes to improved local economic conditions, particularly with respect to employment and the incomes of employees of state-owned enterprises.
This article examines the effects of natural resource extraction on authoritarian governments’ provision of public services, using subnational data from China. Facing no electoral constraint that would reflect the policy preferences of citizens, Chinese local leaders instead allocate public funds differentially based on their need for quality labor in local economic development, a critical criterion for their political success. When the local economy benefits from natural resources, the need for skilled local labor dissipates, and leaders invest less in social services that enhance labor productivity. Using panel data across all prefecture-level cities (1992–2010), I find evidence that mineral resource abundance leads local governments to provide fewer public services for education and health care. Meanwhile, services unrelated to labor quality remain unaffected. The results are robust to the inclusion of key confounding factors such as FDI inflows and state-owned enterprises’ output contributions. Additional analyses reject alternative mechanisms including political turnover.
In this article we examine the impact of pre-colonial educated elites and colonization on modernization. Using the case of Joseon, as Korea was known before being colonized by Japan in 1910, we investigate how the civil exam system and scholarly traditions, as well as the provision of public schools under Japanese colonial rule, influenced levels of literacy in the colony. We introduce novel data from Joseon's historical court examination archives, colonial education records, and censuses dating back to 1930. Our findings suggest that the spread of Korean literacy during the early colonial period was strongly correlated with the historical presence of civil exam passers from the Joseon Dynasty. Regions with a greater presence of educated elites later had higher numbers of Korean teachers, as well as more private schools established as alternatives to the colonial public schools.
How does wartime violence affect public attitudes toward the government in the long run? In this paper, we examine whether violence against civilians during the Korean War continues to influence people’s attitudes toward the South Korean government more than half a century later. We find that wartime violence has clear long-term attitudinal effects. Using a difference-in-differences analysis that compares the cohorts born before and after the war, the findings indicate that people who experienced violence in their childhood (0–5 years) are less supportive of the South Korean government, especially the administration and the military, compared with those born in the same areas during the 5 years after the war. We argue that the gap between pre- and post-war cohorts is generated by the long-lasting trauma of wartime violence and the social stigma imposed on violence victims after the war.
This paper examines the effects of natural resource abundance on social spending in dictatorships. Natural resources, particularly oil, provide authoritarian leaders with economic rents without widescale labor force participation. I argue that dependence on natural resource production thus reduces dictators’ incentive to invest in human capital, which is reflected in lower levels of social spending. Using a panel dataset of authoritarian regimes between 1972 and 2008, I find that oil abundance leads to significantly lower levels of social spending by authoritarian governments. The negative effects are especially prominent concerning expenditures for public education and health: when an authoritarian country earns ten more dollars per capita from oil production, per capita spending on education and health decreases by approximately 1%. Extended analysis shows that the negative impact of oil on social spending is peculiar to authoritarian regimes; no impact of oil wealth on social expenditures is found among democracies.
In this paper, we examine the extent to which wartime violence against civilians during the Korean War affects people's current attitudes toward South Korea and other involved countries. Using a difference-in-differences (DID) approach that compares the cohorts born before and after the war, we find that direct exposure to wartime violence induces negative perceptions regarding perpetrator countries. As many of the civilian massacres were committed by the South Korean armed forces, prewar cohorts living in violence-ridden areas during the war demonstrate significantly less pride in South Korea today. In contrast, postwar cohorts from those violent areas, who were exposed to intensive anti-communist campaigns and were incentivized to differentiate themselves from the victims, show significantly greater pride in South Korea, and greater hospitality toward the United States than toward North Korea, compared to prewar cohorts in the same areas and to the same cohorts born in non-violent areas.
This article explores the link between industrial policy and electoral outcomes under dictatorship. Using a difference-in-differences analysis of county-level panel data from 1971–88 in South Korea, it examines whether the industrial policy implemented by an authoritarian government affects constituents’ electoral decisions. It finds that counties receiving economic benefits through the construction of industrial complexes cast more votes for the incumbent party in subsequent elections. The effects are larger in elections immediately after the appointment of an industrial complex or at the beginning of its construction compared to elections held after the completion of construction. Furthermore, the study tests and rejects reverse causality and migration effects as possible alternative mechanisms for the changes in electoral outcomes. Finally, to understand a unique feature of authoritarian elections, it tests whether industrial complexes affect electoral fraud. Using a genetic matching methodology, it finds that places with new industrial complexes are less likely to experience electoral fraud.