'She was in a hippity-hoppity mood': BBC viral video family on how their children gatecrashed the interview

The professor whose BBC interview became a viral sensation after his children gatecrashed the discussion has spoken for the first time, lifting the lid on what really happened in his South Korean flat.

Robert Kelly, an expert on East Asian politics, was preparing to speak about the impeachment of South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, from his home in Busan - South Korea's second largest city.

His wife Kim Jung-A was at home with their children - Marion, four, and eight-month-old James.

They were sitting in a living room, watching the television and recording the screen for Mr Kelly to watch later, while he was conducting his Skype interview from the home office.

The family explain their now famous viral interview. Picture: WSJ
The family explain their now famous viral interview. Picture: WSJ

But Mr Kelly had made a mistake. He forgot to lock his study door.

Midway through the interview, Marion, noticing that her father was on television and still at home, decided to pay him a visit.

“As soon as she opened the door I saw her image on my screen,” said Mr Kelly, speaking to The Wall Street Journal.

The four-year-old bounced in, jubilant having celebrated her birthday earlier that day.

“She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party,” he explained.

Mr Kelly tried to get his daughter out of view, hoping that the BBC might cut away and give him time to usher the four-year-old out of the room.

But they kept on rolling and, as Marion sat down, James was making his entrance - following his sister, and gliding in on his baby walker.

“Then I knew it was over,” said Mr Kelly.

Ms Kim, still watching the television in the next room, had a delay on her set and did not immediately realise what had happened. Then, horrified, she dashed in to try and usher the children out.

“It’s a comedy of errors,” said Mr Kelly.

Marion, four, happily stomps into the room. Picture: BBC
Marion, four, happily stomps into the room. Picture: BBC

After the interview had ended: “We said to each other, ‘Wow, what just happened?’”

He immediately wrote to the BBC to apologise, but within 15 minutes the broadcaster asked if it could put a clip of the interview on the internet.

The couple initially declined, they told the newspaper - feeling uncomfortable that people might laugh at their children. But they were eventually persuaded that the video would show they were just a regular family.

The family soon realised what an impact it was having, with their phones ringing off the hook and offers from major US television networks flooding in.

Three's a crowd. Mr Kelly is joined by both children during the interview. Picture: BBC
Three's a crowd. Mr Kelly is joined by both children during the interview. Picture: BBC

Some journalists tracked down Mr Kelly’s parents in the east side of Cleveland to ask them about it.

“We stonewalled because we didn’t know what to do,” he said.

The children, he insisted, were not in trouble.

“I mean, it was terribly cute,” he said. “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.

Mum to the rescue! Picture: BBC
Mum to the rescue! Picture: BBC

"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.”

On Wednesday Mr Kelly and his family plan to hold a press conference at his university to answer questions from the Korean media about the video.

“Yes I was mortified, but I also want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me,” he told the paper.

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

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