I spotted this article in the Guardian.

The anger focuses on the character of Mindy Park, who is described as Korean-American in the book and played by white actor Mackenzie Davis

Ridley Scott accused of 'whitewashing' Asian roles in The Martian

But I don't recall and any specific references in the book to Mindy Park's ethnicity and while it's true that Park is a somewhat common Korean family name, it's also a somewhat common Anglo-Saxon family name.

Were there references to her ethnicity that I missed?

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    I've edited to make this look less ranty. It's a good question, but the way it was phrased made me (initially) think that it was too opinion-based for the site.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 10:48
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    "Benjamin Lee accused of racist tendencies, bashes director based on ethnicity of cast". Humanity is incapable of evolving beyond racism/sexism/etc. It will always be there hidden behind bigotry, activism, lack of activism, inclusion, lack of inclusion, assuming race based on a name, not assuming race based on a name, laymen assuming they know nothing of a particular culture, other laymen assuming they know everything of a particular culture, or just plain hyperactive hipsters jumping to every conclusion imaginable. Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:38
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    Wish people would stop fixating on race, this being but one example. Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 12:52
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - I'm trying to imagine the uproar if they'd cast an asian Mark Watney.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 13:50
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    @Danny I can assure you Asian-Americans make up more than 8% of NASA. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Mindy Park's ethnicity isn't described in the novel. Weir has subsequently stated that he personally thought that she was Korean-American but that the movie casting was perfectly fair and equitable given her name and what limited physical descriptions were available to the casting agents and director.

He [Andy Weir] did admit that he’d always pictured Mindy Park as of Korean lineage, but emphasized again that he had never actually explicitly written her as Korean.

“Whatever ethnicity she has, she’s an American and her family has been in America forever, which is why her first name is just Mindy, but her last name is Park. But Park is also a British surname so the casting people [could have] thought Mackenzie Davis looks like someone descended from Brits,” Weir said, laughing. “And she did a great job! I’m certainly not complaining about anything related to casting.”


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    It should be pointed out that the comment was made after the movie was made. What a creator has in their mind is not the same as what is in the book. On the other hand, As a creator any adaptation of anything I create I would hope that all references to my intent were taken into account, but if it's not in the primary source it's fair game to go any direction that works with the work, even if there's a secondary source like we have here, because there are things I think while working on a work, say (or write down), but don't incorporate and future works change it and go another direction.
    – Durakken
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:09
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    @Durakken - A few years ago I went to see a production of Othello with a white Othello and a black Iago and it was wonderful. Sometimes the best character just isn't what the author had in mind.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:47
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    @Durakken in this situation, the source material (the book) doesn't describe what Mindy Park looks like. In that situation I think it's perfectly fine to use whatever actor you would like. Where it becomes problematic is when a book describes an Asian character and a white actor portrays them.
    – kuhl
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 14:01
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    @kuhl That's not a problem. It's just not faithful to the original vision. A problem is when something like race is important to the plot and an actor of another race plays it. The diference can be seen in the same actor funny enough. No one cares that Idris Elba played Heimdall who should be white, but most people dislike that he's playing Roland Deschain in the Dark Tower, because that character being white is important to the story that happens in the book. Those types of problems only occur due to directors/producers not being faithful to the source material.
    – Durakken
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 14:39
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    @Durakken: "No one cares that Idris Elba played Heimdall..." -- I found it jarring, personally. (I made my peace with it after the third viewing or so. He playes the character well.) I also know that there was quite some discussion on the subject. "No one cares" doesn't really nail it there.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 8:31

A simple search through a PDF of "The Martian" shows there is no reference to Korea, Korean, black hair, eye shape, or her being asian in any capacity.

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    Which is exactly as I remember the book.
    – davidbak
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 1:18

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