J.K. Rowling Responds To Controversy Over Casting Of South Korean Actress As Nagini

J.K. Rowling and Claudia Kim
John Phillips / Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

J.K. Rowling has taken to social media to defend her decision to cast South Koran actor Claudia Kim as Voldemort’s snake Nagini in the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The author of the Harry Potter series and its sequels, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, revealed in a promotional video for the film released on Wednesday that the snake is, in fact, a human who was hit by a blood curse named “Maledictus” that only affects women, and one that Nagini has no control over, the Inquisitr previously reported.

However sensational the revelation was as the detail was not included in any of the books, the decision to cast an Asian woman to play the animal has sparked controversy. In the books, Nagini is portrayed as a submissive character and the property of villain Voldemort, who drinks her “milk” for strength before he is restored fully to his body, The Guardian pointed out.

“Asian women brainwashed, transfigured into a giant snake and kept as a pet/slave for 60 years by white male antagonists, then decapitated by a teenager,” one Twitter user wrote, referencing the snake’s eventual death in the seventh book at the hand of Neville Longbottom.

In response to the criticism, Rowling wrote on social media that Nagini is a Naga, a snake-like mythical creature of Indonesian mythology, which is why she wanted an Asian actor to portray the snake, she wrote on Twitter in response to comment criticizing the decision, which called it a poor attempt at representation.

“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,” Rowling wrote.

Another Twitter user added that Rowling’s justification was insufficient, considering that she still cast a South Korean actor to play a character influenced by Indonesian mythology. The user also said that the Naga comes from Indian mythology, not Indonesian.

This isn’t the first time Rowling faced backlash over casting decisions. The second film in the Fantastic Beasts has already drawn controversy when it was announced Johnny Depp would play Gellert Grindelwald, The Guardian noted at the time. The outrage arose when Rowling announced she was sticking to her decision to cast the actor despite the accusations of domestic violence that had been brought forward by the actor’s ex-wife.