An American academic who became an internet sensation late last week, after his live Skype interview was gatecrashed by his children, has broken his silence to speak about his “minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars”.
Prof Robert Kelly was discussing the impeachment of South Korea’s president on BBC World News when his two children barged into his study in their apartment in Busan, South Korea.
“Everybody we know seems to think it’s pretty hysterical. We understand why people find it enjoyable ... It’s funny,” Kelly told James Menendez, the BBC presenter who conducted the original interview.
His wife, Jung-a Kim, said: “We laughed a lot, but still we were worried a little bit more.”
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.”
Many people have been taken by the swagger displayed by Marion, four, as she entered the room and marched up to her father’s desk.
Kelly told the Wall Street Journal she had earlier that day celebrated her birthday at kindergarten. “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 finest 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 some 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 newspaper.
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.”
The overwhelming response to the video, which soon went viral around the world, prompted the couple to turn off their smartphones and ignore social media for several days, unable to deal with the deluge of comments and requests to talk.
However, they broke their silence on Tuesday by giving interviews about the interview. To satisfy the insatiable curiously 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 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.