Min Jung Kim’s research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics and security issues, focusing on the political geography of subnational state-building, governance, and conflict. Her dissertation project examines the origins and processes of state-building in border highlands of South and Southeast Asia. Departing from the prevailing theories of state formation emphasizing the center's capacity and will, her project examines the role of local bargains and frictions between peripheral state agents and societal elites at the edges of state boundaries. She examines how and why these local bargains between the state and society take place, and whether these dynamics create conditions for the center's state-building efforts in these border regions. Her project aims to provide a novel explanation for the dynamic center-periperhy relations and uneven state-building process observed in border regions of South and Southeast Asia pioneered by James Scott. To realize this, she combines extensive and ongoing fieldwork and archival research on the border regions of northeast India (Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland), northern Myanmar (Chin, Kachin, and Shan), and northern Thailand (Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai).
Kim holds an MA in conflict resolution from Georgetown University. Prior to the joining the SIS doctoral program in 2014, she worked on program development and management on human trafficking and migration issues at UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Bangkok as well as research at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Washington D.C.