Couple whose kids gatecrashed TV interview break silence on going viral

Prof Kelly, his wife and children appear in a BBC interview to explain their reaction to the viral video.
Prof Kelly, his wife and children appear in a BBC interview to explain their reaction to the viral video.PHOTO: BBC NEWS
Prof Kelly's children strolled into his study while he was being interviewed for the BBC via Skype.
Prof Kelly's children strolled into his study while he was being interviewed for the BBC via Skype.PHOTO: BBC NEWS/YOUTUBE

LONDON - An academic whose children gatecrashed his Skype interview with the BBC about the impeachment of South Korea's president has spoken about the “minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars”.

American professor Robert Kelly was being interviewed by the BBC when his children, aged four and 18 months, barged into his study at the family home in Busan, South Korea.

The BBC released a video of the incident and it quickly went viral, garnering 21 milllion views to date.

The overwhelming response to the video prompted the embarrassed couple to turn off their smartphones and ignore social media for several days, unable to deal with the deluge of comments and requests to be interviewed, said Britain's Guardian newspaper.

They broke their silence on Tuesday (March 14), said the Guardian.

Prof Kelly, 44,  spoke about the incident with the US Wall Street Journal and BBC reporter James Menendez, who carried out the original Skype interview regarding the impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun Hye.

“Everybody we know seems to think it’s pretty hysterical – we understand why people find it enjoyable ... It’s funny,” Kelly told the BBC's Menendez.

“If you watch the tape I was sort of struggling to keep my own laughs down. They’re little kids and that’s how things are.”

He also cleared up speculation that he could not stand up as he was wearing either pyjamas or no trousers at all.

"Yes, I was wearing pants," he said, laughing.

Kelly, who said he usually locks the study door, added: “Yes I was mortified, but I also want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me.

“I made this minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous.”

The associate professor of political science at Pusan National University added: “We were worried actually that the BBC would never call us again. That was our first response – mortification that we had completely blown our relationship with you.”

His wife, Kim Jung-a, said: “We laughed a lot, but still we were worried a little bit more.”

 

Many people have been taken by the swagger displayed by the couple's four-year-old daughter Marion, as she entered the room and marched up to her father’s desk, said the Guardian.

Kelly told the Wall Street Journal that his daughter had celebrated her birthday at kindergarten earlier that day. “She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party.”

He said: “As soon as she opened the door I saw her image on my screen.”

In the fine showbiz tradition of keeping the show on the road, Kelly valiantly attempted to guide Marion towards some toys, while hoping the broadcaster might narrow the camera angle or use a video of Park Geun Hye.

However, the channel did not cut away and as Kelly responded to a question about inter-Korean relations, his eight-month-old son, James, sailed through the open door in his baby walker on the polished wooden floor.

“Then I knew it was over,” Kelly told the Wall Street Journal.

The fact that many people had wrongly assumed that Kim was the nanny or maid made Kelly feel “pretty uncomfortable”, he told the BBC.

His wife, though, was more relaxed. “I hope people just enjoy it and don’t argue over this thing,” she said. “I’m not the nanny – that’s the truth – so I hope they stop arguing.”

To satisfy the insatiable curiosity of the South Korean media about the incident – which Kelly blames on himself for failing to lock the door as normal – the couple will hold a press conference on Wednesday (March 15) at his university.

The institution might welcome the publicity, but it may take longer for Kelly’s academic expertise to be valued over his opinions about the potential pitfalls of conducting live television interviews from home – and failing to lock the study door, said the Guardian.