The family at the centre of the biggest viral video of the year so far have finally broken their silence to explain what actually happened during that hilarious BBC interview last week.
Professor Robert Kelly, his wife Kim Jung-A and his children Marion and James spoke to the Wall Street Journal after maintaining a dignified silence since his chaotic interview went viral – notching up 86m views on BBC Newsbeat’s Facebook page alone since last Friday.
The BBC interview, at 7pm his time, came at the end of a long day of back-to-back radio and TV interviews with Professor Kelly discussing the impeachment of South Korea’s president from the safety of the office in his apartment in Busan, South Korea’s second-biggest city.
His wife, Ms Kim, was sitting watching the interview with their two children in the living room, with Ms Kim videoing the screen with her phone so that he could watch it back later.
It seems that, as the interview began, their four-year-old daughter Marion, saw her father on the screen, recognised that he was in a room in their house, and wandered off to find him – something she’s done before, usually finding the door locked.
However, on this occasion, Kelly had made the crucial error of leaving it unlocked – cue the entrant of the sassiest four-year-old around, who had enjoyed her birthday party earlier that day at kindergarten.
“As soon as she opened the door I saw her image on my screen. She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party.”
Kelly tried to style it out, trying to direct her to some toys, but it was too late. Cue the entrance of player/playa number two – Marion’s eight-month-old brother James in his baby walker.
“Then I knew it was over,” Mr. Kelly said.
With the delay in the broadcast, it took Ms. Kim a few seconds to realise what was going on. Wearing socks on the apartment’s hardwood floor, she heroically slid into the room, trying to stay out of camera shot before – eventually – rounding up the kids.
“He usually locks the door. 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.”
Soon, it was chaos for the whole family as the clip quickly went viral across the world. It also stirred some controversy with many assuming that his wife was, in fact, a nanny. The BBC had contacted them 15 minutes after the interview to ask to use the clip; having initially declined, they were eventually persuaded that it would present them in a good light, being a normal family.
Kelly feared that it could damage his career, believing that it may have made him look unprofessional, and that he would never be asked to appear on TV again.
“We said to each other, ‘Wow, what just happened?’”
He added, “I made this minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
Offers for interviews flooded in, but, “We stonewalled because we didn’t know what to do,” Mr. Kelly said. He put his phone on airplane mode and avoided email, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and all the rest of the internet’s many outlets.
They say that they did not tell the children off, as it was Kelly’s fault for not locking the door.
“[It was} a mixture of surprise and embarrassment and amusement, and love and affection, I mean it was terribly cute… 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.”
He added, “Yes I was mortified, but I also want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me.”
During a news conference at Pusan National University, where he works, Kelly also said, “We are just a regular family and raising two young children can be a lot of work. We love our children very much, and we are happy that our family blooper – our family error on television brought so much laughter to so many people.”