The new movie is a further spin-off of the Wizarding World franchise, which of course also includes the Harry Potter tales.
Its trailer revealed that Nagini – seen as a villainous, deadly snake in the Harry Potter books and movies – started life as a woman inflicted with a curse that leaves her able to transform between human and serpent; doomed to one day remain the latter permanently.
Given that there are very few women of East Asian descent in the entire franchise (in fact, Nagini is the second – after Potter’s fleeting love interest Cho Chang), the decision to cast Claudia Kim as someone who will become a Nazi-inspired antagonist’s pet has ruffled more than a few feathers.
“maybe ‘circus performer who turns into a murderous snake’ isn’t the best choice of role for one of the two WOC in the franchise,” writer Gavia Baker-Whitelaw argued.
Now, Rowling has explained the decision.
On Twitter, one person wrote to her: “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: “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.”
Kim herself has not publicly addressed the furore, but spoke of her excitement at showing a new side to the character in a recent interview.
Fantastic Beasts 2 has been swamped by repeated backlash: firstly over the news that Dumbledore’s homosexuality will once again not be referenced or alluded to at all, and nor will his romance with Gellert Grindelwald.
Fans argued that there was no point in Rowling publicly confirming the Hogwarts headmaster is gay if it was never going to be represented on screen or on the page, although it’s worth noting that there are still three more planned Fantastic Beasts movies to come.
There was then anger over the fact that Johnny Depp had been kept in the role of Grindelwald despite the very public row between him and ex Amber Heard, and the claims she had made against him.
Director David Yates told Entertainment Weekly: “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something.
“I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out on November 16.