Sanghoon Kim

Sanghoon Kim

PhD Candidate

Department of Political Science, University of Illinois

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research interests focuse on authoritarian nostalgia and related political behavior in post-authoritarian democracies, especially East Asian countries. My dissertation investigates why individual voters feel nostalgic for an authoritarian past and vote for political parties that are linked to the past. I explain the variation in authoritarian nostalgia with personality traits and external threat perception. I also show that authoritarian nostalgia is one of the key sources of social identity in maturing democracies, and people high in nostalgia are more likely to “vote for nostalgia”, support politicians and political parties evoking nostalgia. My dissertation research is supported by various sources, including the 2020 Taiwan Fellowship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

Before joining the PhD program at Illinois, I received my BA in Political Science and Economics and an MA in Political Science from Korea University.


  • Authoritarian legacies
  • Comparative political behavior
  • Personality and political attitudes
  • Post-authoritarian democracies


  • PhD Candidate in Political Science

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • MA in Political Science, 2015

    Korea University

  • BA in Political Science; Economics, 2011

    Korea University

Dissertation Project

Open to an Authoritarian Past?: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Authoritarian Nostalgia

Why do people feel nostalgic for a former dictator? Democratic rule has been the modal political system since the Third Wave of democratization, but the legacies of authoritarian rule and nostalgia for dictators still drive political behavior in many Third Wave democracies. Politicians often evoke the achievements of a former autocrat and parrot political rhetoric from the old regime. Voters respond with more positive sentiment towards the former dictator, romanticizing the authoritarian past, and casting votes for the successors of the dictator in the hope of restoring the authoritarian prosperity. My dissertation investigates the types of voters who feel nostalgic for an authoritarian past. Longing for the authoritarian past can function as a remedy for a lack of satisfaction with the new democratic regime and help construct social identity with those who embrace core values from the authoritarian period. This dissertation project seeks to establish a yet unexamined concept of …


I received the A. Belden Fields Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching as a Teaching Assisant in 2019. Teaching evaluations are available upon request.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • PS230 Intro to Political Research (Spring 2021)
  • PS241 Comparative Politics in Developing Nations (Online, Spring 2020)
  • GLBL296 Global Politics of Intellectual Property Protection (Spring 2019)
  • PS100 Intro to Political Science (Online, Spring 2019)

Teaching Assistant

  • PS231 Strategic Models (Fall 2020)
  • PS241 Comparative Politics in Developing Nations (Spring 2018, Fall 2018)
  • PS220 Intro to Public Policy (Fall 2017)
  • PS322 Law and Public Policy (Spring 2017)
  • PS321 Principles of Public Policy (Fall 2016)