In Brief

Fantastic Beasts: J.K. Rowling defends ‘racist’ Nagini casting

Fans criticise choice of South Korean actress to play Lord Voldemort’s pet snake

J.K. Rowling has hit back at allegations of racism over a controversial casting choice for The Crimes of Grindelwald, the upcoming sequel to to her Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Early reports that South Korean actress Claudia Kim would appear in the new film were confirmed this week with the release of the trailer - which shows her in the role of Nagini, a woman who can transform into a snake at will.

The Daily Express points out that “as Harry Potter readers and viewers will know, she will become a snake permanently”, and fall under the control of evil wizard Lord Voldemort. Some fans have “branded the casting racially insensitive, as Nagini is a cursed woman who is submissive to a man”, as well as playing into tropes exoticising Asian women, reports the London Evening Standard.

The Fantastic Beasts series “has previously attracted criticism for its largely white cast”, says The Guardian, but now Rowling is under fire on Twitter for the casting of Kim. 

One critic wrote: “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.

“Representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation.”

Rowling responded directly to the comment, writing: “The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini’.

“They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi.”

She added: “Have a lovely day.”

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