Author JK Rowling has defended the decision to cast Korean actor Claudia Kim as Voldemort’s devoted pet, Nagini, in “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald”. In the final trailer of the film, starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law and Johnny Depp, Kim is shown transforming into Nagini, who is later revealed to be one of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes in Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
The casting drew the ire of many on social media for being racist, while some called it a classic case of Asian actors playing submissive characters on-screen.
A user on Twitter called out Rowling: “Listen Joanne, we get it, you didn’t include enough representation when you wrote the books. But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage.”
Rowling responded, saying Nagini is a Naga, which are “snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology”.
“They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day,” the author added.
Calling out the film for showing a subservient Asian to a white man, one of the users tweeted, “You can’t be admitted to Hogwarts unless you’re English and we don’t know if there’s any wizarding schools in Asia, home of 4.4 billion people ... (and) a homicidal white man traps an Asian woman inside a snake form and brainwashes her.”
Author Amish Tripathi, best known for “Shiva” trilogy, pointed out to Rowling that “the Naga mythology emerged from India”.
“It travelled to Indonesia with the Indic/Hindu empires that emerged there in the early Common Era, with the influence of Indian traders and Rishis/Rishikas who travelled there. Nagin is a Sanskrit language word,” he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Rowling had revealed Nagini is a Maledictus, a female who carries a blood curse from birth which eventually results in them turning into a beast.
This is not the first time she has been targeted by the angry fans.
The author was previously criticised for not addressing the sexuality of Albus Dumbledore in the films, who she later revealed as gay, as well as casting of Depp, who has been accused of domestic violence.
Interestingly, Rowling had received praise for offering support to Noma Dumezweni, a British actor of South African descent, who was cast as Hermione Granger in the London production of the play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’