An interview about South Korea’s political upheaval became one of the most popular things on the Internet on Friday, when the children of professor Robert E. Kelly became the inadvertent stars of his spot on the BBC.
The BBC News video of the sequence was retweeted and “liked” thousands of times, and Kelly won empathy — especially from those who said they can identify with the struggle to be both a professional and a parent in the same moment.
“I think it’s awesome that a man can be world class in his field and have a family where their kids feel comfortable enough to play with him,” Rob Erickson said via Twitter.
Kelly was offering his thoughts about the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye when his daughter infiltrated the live Skype interview — and in an instant, viewers who had been pondering the Korean peninsula were instead watching the pigtailed girl bop into the room, clearly pleased to have found her daddy.
“I think one of your children has just walked in,” the BBC anchor said, prompting Kelly to reach behind him to keep his daughter back from the camera.
Kelly smiled, and the girl settled onto a table in what looks to be his home office in Pusan to have a snack, and all seemed settled. And that’s when Kelly’s toddler son got into the act, bursting into the room in a rolling walker and making a beeline toward the camera.
At that point, off-camera giggles erupted from the BBC set, and while Kelly did his best to keep his composure, a woman rushed into the room to retrieve the children.
“Pardon me,” Kelly said. “My apologies.”
He proceeded to go over recent events on the Korean peninsula, even as an obviously emotional scene played out outside his door.
When a BBC producer asked him via Twitter about reposting the video, Kelly responded by asking, “What would that mean, please? Rebroadcasting it on BBC TV, or just here on Twitter? Is this kinda thing that goes ‘viral’ and gets weird?”
While the majority of responses we’ve seen have been positive, some viewers have questioned the way Kelly pushed his daughter — one person wrote on Twitter that he “stiff armed his kid without breaking his steely, unflinching camera gaze.”
And on the BBC Newsbeat’s Facebook posting of the video, a top comment by Joe Gee Karanja reads, “I wouldn’t be embarrassed by my kids… he could’ve just grabbed the child with yellow sweater and place her on his lap. Nothing wrong with that.”
To that, Micaela Doran replied, “Really? He’s trying to remain professional. There is a time and place for family time. This was work time. Children need to learn this too.”
By the time he was on the BBC (watch the full interview here), Kelly had already spoken to CNN International and Australia’s ABC network, as he monitored the fallout from Park’s removal from office.
In reply to Kelly’s tweet about the video going viral, defense researcher Ziya Meral wrote, “do not worry! It is not a negative even if it goes viral. All of us who give interviews from home would smile and love it.”
Adding to that sentiment, Canadian relationship expert Dr. Kimberly Moffitt responded, “This is TV GOLD and in the best possible way. We can all relate my friend. I’ve had a similar experience!”