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- Cho Chang isn’t an accurate nor relatable portrayal of an Asian female character in Harry Potter
- The name Cho Chang doesn’t make sense in any Asian culture and it also sounds like the ethnic slur “ching chong.”
- Cho Chang is also ridiculed and stereotyped throughout the books and movies, which has made it a problematic character.
The Harry Potter franchise is full of interesting characters. Cho Chang, Harry’s first love interest and one of the few Asian characters in the main series, played a minor but important role in the franchise. However, her name has attracted some controversy in recent years. Unlike other strong female characters in Harry Potter, whose names are not only real but have deep literary and cultural references, Cho Chang’s name only contains a vague indication of her Asian origin.
Cho Chang appears for the first time in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She is Cedric Diggory’s girlfriend at the time, and Harry already has a little crush on herl. It isn’t until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Harry and Cho become closer, especially because they’re both mourning Cedric. However, Cho’s character isn’t only problematic because of her name, but the book also mocked her for crying too much and being girly. Cho has been at the center of many critics’ complaints towards the Harry Potter series, since fans believe she’s not an accurate nor fair portrayal of an Asian female character.
Updated on January 23, 2024, by Andrea Sandoval: While Cho Chang, Harry Potter’s first romantic interest, could be considered one of the most important characters in the Harry Potter franchise, many fans of the series consider her to be a bad portrayal of an Asian character. Many fans consider the name Cho Chang racist, and her character an unfair stereotype that doesn’t seem to belong to any particular ethnicity. We updated this article to further analyze this character’s role in the series and expand the information about Cho Chang’s controversy in the fandom.
Although Harry Potter is one of the most popular fantasy franchises of all time, in some ways, the Wizarding World has aged poorly.
Who is Cho Chang in Harry Potter?
Known Romantic Interests
Harry Potter, Cedric Diggory, Roger Davies, and Michael Corner
Cho Chang is a secondary character in the Harry Potter franchise and the main character’s first romantic interest. Cho Chang first appeared in the series as Cedric Diggory’s girlfriend, and she quickly became Harry’s first crush. The character was placed in the Ravenclaw house, and she became the Seeker of this house’s Quidditch team. In fact, she was a great fan of the Tutshill Tornados, one of the many recognized Quidditch teams in the Harry Potter series.
However, after a very brief romance between Harry and Cho in the fifth book, the two quickly realized they didn’t have much in common. Harry and Cho had a disastrous date at Madam Pudifoot’s Tea Shop since Cho expected Harry to be more romantic, and she also became increasingly jealous of Harry and Hermione’s close friendship. Later, the relationship became even more tense when Cho’s friend, Marietta Edgecombe, told Dolores Umbridge about Dumbledore’s Army (in the movies, Cho Chang herself is the one to discuss the clandestine group). After Harry and Cho’s romance failed, the character became less prominent in the series.
Cho Chang Is Not a Plausible Name
In Harry Potter, Cho Chang’s film iteration featured many changes from the books. And it could be argued her film version deserved much better.
The main issue with Cho Chang’s name is that it doesn’t make sense for any culture in Asia. Many have pointed out that “Cho” might be a Korean surname. However, it’s unlikely to be used as a first name, like in Harry Potter. Although “Chang” also exists in the Korean language, it’s only used as a surname. It seems weird for a person to be named after two surnames with only one syllable making up for her first name, which is very uncommon in Korean culture.
Similarly, “Chang” can be used as both a surname and a first name in Han Chinese. “Cho,” on the other hand, does not exist in the language. Even in Cantonese, “Cho” is only used as a surname and not a first name. It’s possible that “Cho” as a first name might be the Romanization of “Qui” (Autumn) from Chinese or similar-sounding words from other Asian cultures, which isn’t uncommon for Asian children born in a Western society.
Perhaps “Cho” came from the Japanese culture, but either way, it seems like a stretch to make “Cho Chang” a plausible name for a person of Asian descent. On top of that, J.K. Rowling never clarified the character’s ethnicity, which makes it an even poorer representation of an Asian character. Since Cho’s parents only appear through mentions in the Harry Potter books, there’s no way of knowing the character’s ancestry and lineage. Some fans also criticize how “Cho Chang” sounds similar to “ching chong,” a pejorative phrase that has been used to mock Asian people and how their languages sound, a fact that J.K. Rowling should have taken into account before choosing the name for one of the main love interests in the series.
Cho Chang’s Name Isn’t Her Only Problematic Aspect
While Harry Potter received praise from fans and critics for its complex themes, some of the plots and character development left much to be desired.
Cho Chang’s name isn’t the only issue. The character’s stereotypical portrayal of Asian people might have been the real reason why fans take issues with her name. Cho first appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Harry’s love interest. She dated Cedric and joined Dumbledore’s Army after his death. During The Order of the Phoenix, she sparked a brief romance with Harry but faded out of the film after Dolores Umbridge used Veritaserum to make Cho reveal the location of the group’s meetings.
In other words, Cho Chang plays right into the smart Asian stereotype. She’s portrayed as an intelligent girl from Ravenclaw who does nothing other than date a couple of boys before being unceremoniously written out as a “tattletale.” What’s more, the character is mostly written as a comedy relief. The series mocks Cho Chang because she cries a lot, something that makes sense, taking into account that her ex-boyfriend has just passed away. Additionally, Harry mocks the character for liking a “girly” and romantic place, such as Madema Pudifoot’s Tea Shop. In fact, Harry eventually ends up with the archetype of the “cool” not-girly girl, Ginny Weasley, who becomes a professional Quidditch player, is a great duelist, and rejects and even mocks femininity.
Harry Potter was a story full of heart, but many relationships became too awkward to watch.
Fans dislike Cho Chang as a character because she’s a poor construction of an Asian character. The Harry Potter series has been widely criticized for its lack of diversity, not only culturally but also when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. Cho Chang’s name doesn’t make sense in any Asian culture, which is a problem in a series that takes so much time crafting the most important names of the wizarding world, but none of them are Asian.
Cho Chang’s name sounds like the kind of stereotypical name that a person who doesn’t understand any Asian culture would make up. What’s more, people have also pointed out that Harry Potter doesn’t include any non-British dishes in Hogwarts, which is a problem when taking into account that Great Britain is a multicultural country with people from many different continents and backgrounds, particularly Asia and Africa. This is even worse when considering that the few Asian characters (Cho Chang and Parvati and Padma Patil) are written to be mocked because of their girliness. Still, the TV series adaptation that Max is going to release soon has a unique opportunity to fully develop Cho Chang’s character, explaining the origins of her name and expanding her family tree. What’s more, this series could also add more interesting and rounded Asian characters that fairly portray people from multicultural backgrounds.
The Harry Potter franchise follows the adventure of a young boy introduced a whole new world of magic, mayhem and darkness. Traversing the obstacles in his path, young Harry’s rise to heroics pits him against Lord Voldemort, one of the most dangerous wizards in the world and all his minions.
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