South Korea expert interrupted by children on BBC World News goes viral

Steven Morris

Working from home when children are at large can be perilous – that vital call interrupted by a screaming baby, a toddler scattering crucial documents, the teenager pumping up the volume as a deadline looms.

But such challenges are small fry compared with what Robert E Kelly, an academic based at a South Korean university, had to endure as he tried to broadcast to the world on matters of global importance.

Kelly was live on BBC World News talking about the South Korean president being forced out of office when the door of his office was swung open by a little girl in a bright yellow jumper and spectacles. She jauntily crossed the room as Kelly tried to explain what it all meant for the wider region.

The BBC presenter warned the interviewee that he was no longer alone and Kelly, still staring fixedly into the camera, tried to press on while gently pushing the girl away from him.

Worse was to come.

In the background – with perfect comic timing – a second youngster, this one a baby, made an even more dramatic appearance, wheeling him or herself on to the stage in a walker. Still Kelly carried on, turning his attention to how North Korea might react to the end of Park Geun-hye’s term.

Cue a panicked woman who slid into the room, looked towards the camera with alarm and set about extracting both children from the office. Kelly apologised as the baby was wheeled out and the girl was dragged unceremoniously off stage.

The woman crawled back, shut the the door and Kelly, an associate professor of international relations at Pusan National University, again tried to think about North Korea rather than the dangers of the home office invasion.

Presenter James Menendez tweeted: “Hard to keep a straight face” and: “It was the desperate reach for the door at the end that nearly did it for me ...”

Later he added: “Having watched it back, all credit to @Robert_E_Kelly for keeping it going. Come back to @bbcworld soon, with or without your lovely family!”

And Kelly’s own response on Twitter displayed a touching optimism about his chances of maintaining a quiet life. He asked: “Is this kinda thing that goes viral and gets weird?”

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