East Asian affairs expert Robert Kelly became an Internet sensation overnight — and simultaneously received the sympathy of parents everywhere — when his children crashed his live BBC interview last week.
Kelly is now sitting down for yet another Skype call, this time with the Wall Street Journal, to shed light on the moment that has captivated the world. “As soon as she opened the door I saw her image on my screen,” he told the paper about his daughter, Marion, who waltzed into his office first. “She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party.”
Though Kelly made every effort to move his daughter out of the frame, his second child, James, glided into the room to join his sister before his wife, Kim Jung-A, had a chance to slide across the hardwood floors to retrieve her children.
“It’s a comedy of errors,” he added before placing the blame firmly on his shoulders for not locking his office door.
“He usually locks the door,” Kelly’s wife said. “Most of the time they come back to me after they find the locked door. But they didn’t. And then I saw the door was open. It was chaos for me.”
Though Ms. Kim had been watching her husband’s live interview, the BBC’s delay meant that she failed to see her children on-screen before she could prevent the mishap.
Since airing, the Facebook clip has since been viewed over 84 million times and has received coverage from outlets in Nigeria to Australia.
“We said to each other, ‘Wow, what just happened?’” he recalled.
While Kelly initially declined the BBC’s request to share the interview online, he eventually allowed the posting after the network had insisted it showed they were a normal family.
In the days that followed, Kelly was forced to put his phone on airplane-mode after being barraged with social media notifications and calls from journalists. “We stonewalled because we didn’t know what to do,” Kelly said.
In the end, Kelly credited his wife for minimizing the resulting damage. “I mean it was terribly cute,” he added. “I saw the video like everybody else. My wife did a great job cleaning up a really unanticipated situation as best she possibly could… It was funny. 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.”
“Yes I was mortified, but I also want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me,” Kelly concluded. “I made this minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
Kelly has since released a press release on his website about the viral video to clear up any questions viewers had about the mishap.
First Kelly explains that he and his family were unsure how to handle the reaction. “We were unsure how to respond, and as the attention accelerated, we became genuinely unnerved. We had no idea how to handle this.”
The clip, he says, was nothing more than a “public family blooper” despite some watchers having a lot to say about it. Like the confusion on who the woman was who entered the room. “Yes, the woman in the video is my wife, Jung-A Kim, not my nanny.”
Much of the reaction from some viewers were that Jung-A used to much force trying to pulled daughter Marion out of the way, Kelly explained, “No, Jung-A did not use too much force in removing the children from the room. It is quite apparent from the video that she is frantically trying to salvage the professionalism of the interview. The children were not injured. When Marion speaks in the clip she says, in Korean, ‘why, mom?’ She is responding in surprise, because we normally do not treat our children this way. Marion’s willingness to comfortably traipse into my home office illustrates her usual ease with her parents.”
Throughout the press release, Kelly took time to answer some of the questions viewers had about his surroundings, like: “No, it was not staged,” to “Yes, I was wearing pants. I choose not to stand, because I was trying to salvage the interview,” and “No, the map was not hung there as a prop. It was a gift and genuinely helps me learn world place names in Korean.”