J.K. Rowling Responds To Accusations Of Racism In Fantastic Beasts

0 Shares
JK Rowling head shotGetty

The trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was released recently and J.K. Rowling has since responded to accusations of racism surrounding one of the characters. 

The trailer for the latest instalment of the series was released on Tuesday (September 25), and while some fans simply responded with excitement about the upcoming film, others found issue with one of the author’s characters.

The Crimes of Grindelwald re-introduces us to Nagini, who until recently, was only known of as Voldemort’s snake. However, the trailer revealed Nagini is in fact a Maledictus, a woman who carries a curse which will ultimately turn her into a beast – in this case, a snake.

Nagini Fantastic BeastsWarner Bros

The new film will look into Nagini when she was human, with the character played by South Korean actor, Claudia Kim. The trailer shows Nagini performing in a circus show as she transforms from human to snake.

Following the trailer’s release, many people turned on Rowling for her role in casting the South Korean actor as a character who appears in a circus show, and who, in Harry Potter, was seen eating people, being Voldemort’s submissive companion, before eventually getting beheaded.

One person tweeted the writer accusing her of leaving representation to an afterthought, writing:

listen Joanne, we get it, you didn’t include enough representation when you wrote the books. [sic]

But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage. [sic]

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

Others had issues with the name Nagini being attributed to a South Korean character, with many claiming Nagini is an Indian name.

One person wrote:

So Nagini is a Korean woman with an Indian name who lived in Albania later turned into a horcrux? [sic]

What’s next? She might as well be Harry’s mother (Voldemort’s his father) and Harry is actually not just a parseltongue but half-human half-snake. [sic]

Another added:

another thing that bothers me a lot about this whole thing is that nagini is literally the Hindi word for female snake and it makes me very uncomfortable that not only is she bad rep, she’s not even south asian as her name would imply [sic]

Rowling has since responded to the accusations and explained the origin of the character’s name is Indonesian.

Having first introduced Nagini in The Goblet of Fire, which was released in 2000, it seems the writer has been thinking about the character and how she would be represented for some time, rather than as an afterthought.

In response, she wrote on Twitter:

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. Have a lovely day.

Fans have been turning on Rowling for the decision to cast Claudia Kim, but many seem to forget Rowling wasn’t solely in charge of casting for Crimes of Grindelwald.

Those who worked on the film in casting and production must have agreed Kim was the best actor for the role.

Nagini Fantastic BeastsWarner Bros

One supportive fan wrote:

The thing I don’t get with this whole Nagini racism sh*t is… what would you rather they have done? [sic]

Say “Sorry Claudia, we can’t give you this role, because you’re Asian.”?? Because I’m sure that would have gone down well… [sic]

Another stuck up for the choice of casting and mentioned how Kim is grateful for support:

Is it ok that I’m not mad that Nagini was cast as an Asian? I was at an event with Claudia Kim yesterday and told her how cool it was to see more Asian representation in this franchise and she later told me that it meant a lot to her that I said that. [sic]

We will see more of Kim when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is released on November 16.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected] 


Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.