The Harry Potter Name That's Ruffling Feathers: Is Cho Chang Really That Problematic?

The Harry Potter Name That's Ruffling Feathers: Is Cho Chang Really That Problematic?
Image credit: Legion-Media

Of all the Harry Potter characters, there is only one who represents Asian culture. But it is not a positive representation.

Cho Chang first appeared in Prisoner of Azkaban, when she was introduced as the Seeker of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team and Harry's love interest. While Harry watched the pretty schoolmate from the sidelines, she began dating Cedric Diggory and was affected by his death at the end of Goblet of Fire.

Throughout Order of the Phoenix, Cho and Harry developed a sort of romantic relationship and even kissed, but after the forced betrayal of Dumbledore's Army, they broke up for good.

All in all, Cho is a compelling character who is important for several storylines. However, as the only Asian character in the series, her portrayal proves to be problematic. Playing too much into Asian stereotypes, Cho is described as a pretty, well-mannered, smart girl who giggles and cries a lot. The main problem, however, is her name.

J. K. Rowling chose the Harry Potter names to fit the characters and their personalities. However, this only seemed to apply to the white British characters. When it came to naming the rest, the only thing their names seemed to represent was their nationality or race. Fleur Delacour, Padma and Parvati Patil, Anthony Goldstein are all generic names that indicate the characters' ethnicity or the region they're supposed to be from. But Cho Chang is the worst of all.

Cho's exact ancestry and lineage are never specified in the books. She may be Korean, but they rarely use one-syllable names. Also, both Cho and Chang are family names.

In Han Chinese, Chang exists as both a first name and a surname, but they never call their children Cho. In Cantonese, Cho is also only used as a surname and not as a first name.

So it looks like the author used a combination of two common surnames from two completely different countries to name her only Asian character. Not to mention that Cho Chang sounds too much like 'chin chong,' a phrase used to mock Asians and their languages.

If you're still not convinced that Cho Chang was done dirty, in 2021, Katie Leung, the actress who played Cho, spoke to Metro UK about the racist attacks she faced from Harry Potter fans.

'I was Googling myself at one point, I remember reading all the comments, and there was a lot of racist s***,' the actress said.

Source: Metro UK.