Robert Kelly on live TV fail: ‘Real life sort of punched through the fake cover’

Posted at 8:12 AM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 10:14:20-04

By now, you’re probably familiar with the video of the professor’s super-important BBC interview that was hilariously gatecrashed by not one, but two of his young children.

Since Friday, it’s littered Facebook feeds across the globe and garnered media coverage from as far as Nigeria and Uruguay.

On Wednesday, the hapless dad and his family were on live TV once again in a press conference from Busan, where they live, south of the South Korean capital Seoul.

Professor Robert Kelly, with his wife Kim Jung-A and two kids, gamely fielded questions on everything from whether the gaffe was staged to whether they plan to make money from it. (The answer to both is definitely not.)

Kelly said he thought the clip had resonated because it was something many working parents could relate to.

“I think the reason why this went viral is because my real life sort of punched through the fake cover I had created for television,” he said, as his four-year-old daughter Marion sucked a lollipop in the seat next to him, making good use of the rotating chair.

“I create this veneer of professionalism inside my house. I wear a jacket in front of the camera.”

“Then suddenly reality bursts in.”

‘Wildly unprofessional?’

South Koreans have been just as charmed with the video as everyone else — perhaps more so for giving the country something to smile about during a political crisis.

Kelly, an expert in Korean politics at Pusan National University, was originally on TV to talk to about Friday’s ouster of President Park Geun-hye, which has sparked protests and deeply divided the country.

“Thanks to Prof. Robert Kelly, a sliding wife and two cute kids gave a big smile to the citizens of the world. One good reason to laugh during this impeachment period,” said Twitter user @windsook1969.

He initially feared that the gaffe would end his TV career and said he’s still “a little bit concerned” it could affect his academic credentials.

“I had assumed that this would end any TV appearances. That people would see this and assume it was wildly unprofessional and no-one would ever call me again.”

“If we’re still talking about this in six months, I would be genuinely be uncomfortable.”


Earlier, the family spoke to the Wall Street Journal and the BBC, which broadcast the original interview.

As Kelly began his TV appearance, his wife Kim was in their living room, watching it with the couple’s two kids. She was filming the TV screen with her phone in their living room to ensure he had a copy of clip, the WSJ said.

Marion jumped up and down at the sight of her father on the screen and wandered off — perhaps to find him. The couple’s 8-month-old son, James, followed behind in his baby-walker.

Kelly told the WSJ that his daughter’s much remarked upon swagger as she entered his home office was down to her “hippity-hoppity mood” — the result of a birthday party that day at her kindergarten.

Kim was still concentrating on the screen and told the WSJ that the delay on TV feed she was watching meant she didn’t see that the children were in the room for a few seconds.

“He usually locks the door,” Kim 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.”

Kelly said he was very grateful for his wife’s heroic efforts to usher the gatecrashers out of the room.

“My wife deserves a medal,” Kelly told the BBC.