J.K. Rowling has responded to online backlash regarding the casting of Claudia Kim in Fantastic Beasts: Crimes Of Grindelwald.
The South Korean star plays Nagini – a woman who becomes the eventual pet snake of Lord Voldemort – in the second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts film series, which also features performances from Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law and Johnny Depp.
However, following the release of a trailer showing Kim in character, online critics have taken issue with the casting and claimed that it is offensive to have her perform in a submissive role, a character trait routine ascribed to Asian women.
“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,” Twitter user Jen Moulton wrote in a message to the Harry Potter author. “Representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation.”
But hitting back at the claim, Rowling insisted that the casting was entirely appropriate as the fictional character, in fact, has Asian origins.
“The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini’,” she replied. “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 (snake emoji).”
Kim, who has previously starred in Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Dark Tower, was finally able to reveal her role in the movie on Tuesday (25Sep18), and enthused that it was a “very emotional moment”.
This is not the first time the Fantastic Beasts cast has been called into question, as fans previously protested against Depp’s inclusion as Gellert Grindelwald in light of accusations of domestic violence made by his ex-wife Amber Heard against him in 2016.
Yet, Rowling issued a statement in which she explained that she was “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character” in the movies.