The Manny
매니 (2011) tvN 16 Episodes, Grade: B
Family Drama, Romance, Comedy

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

In a perfect world ... EVERY man would be a Manny (a male nanny), showing his nurturing capabilities toward women, home, and children! Women would be able to rest now and then, and the children would benefit from not having an exhausted mother. It would be terrific if we could clone the just about perfect Manny in this Korean drama so that every woman in the world could have her own!

Sweet, sad and poignant, at times funny, suspenseful and completely engaging, The Manny (2011) is a very enjoyable Korean family drama - romantic comedy that's unique in many ways. It moves quickly as a story, with no excess, unnecessary baggage to weigh it down. The heart of the show is about family dynamics, specifically what happens to a family after a divorce where the "father" is barely involved in his children's lives and the ex-wife, now a single working mother, decides to hire an expert male nanny, who becomes far more than a caretaker of the children as the series progresses, he becomes the ideal loving "father" the children never really had.

The Story: Quiet, unassuming, and a bit mousy in appearance, single mother Do Young Seo (Jung Yoon Choi) runs a clothing boutique beneath the apartment she shares with her far more flamboyant sister Janice (Jung Soo Byun), who runs a modeling agency and has her sights set on becoming a judge on a reality show. Do Young is a divorcee who has full custody of her two children, a precocious ten year old girl named Eun Bi Oh (cutie pie Da Bin Jung), and a very depressed little 5 year old boy named Jung Min Oh (Seung Hyun Goo, a wonderfully expressive child actor who played the young Soo Ha in I Hear Your Voice and is once again playing Jong Suk Lee's younger self in Doctor Stranger). These two children were exceptional casting choices and added a lot of bittersweet poignancy to the show, especially in regards to how they miss having a father influence in their lives. Eun Bi tends to act out to get attention, due to lack of fatherly discipline in her life, and Jung Min shuts himself up in his bedroom, barely says a word, and draws darkly serious pictures to express his loneliness. He is basically clinically depressed. Do Young does the best she can with a very difficult situation, always putting her children first, but sister Janice, though she seems to care about the kids, doesn't spend much time with them. Most of the work falls on Do Young, who sometimes understandably becomes frazzled and scatterbrained due to work overload in her business and home. 

Then Do Young hears of a famous "Manny" named Yi Han Kim (Ji-seok Seo) who has written a best selling book called Manny In New York, all about nurturing children, and he is visiting Korea from New York. He holds a book signing event and Do Young attends to get his autograph, and through a series of crazy events he ends up in her vehicle afterwards, trying to chase down a tour guide who abandoned him. The shy Do Young is very flustered, but later on, when Yi Han hears there is a problem with his planned return trip to New York (due to a trumped up scandal), he ends up having to stay in Korea for the time being, and he agrees to be hired by Do Young as a manny for her children. 

He immediately likes the children and seeks to draw them out of their shells, sometimes in very moving ways that made me cry. For instance, when
Jung-min got mad at his friend on the playground and pushed him, Yi Han asks him later why he did that. Jung-min's voice trembles as he blurts out, "I have a dad, too¦ b-but he kept saying I don't!"¯ Pass me the Kleenex to cry into, please! And when Eun Bi fights with a boy who likes her, Yi Han puts on a magic show for her and her classmates and then has the two children who are quarreling go into a magic box, but all they end up doing is weeping, accusing each others' mothers of being bad people. Yi Han had purposely invited the two Moms to the party and they arrive and hear the children crying, and they look at each other with shamed faces - the mothers had been behind the friction the children were feeling. They resolve not to speak badly about one another again. Oh, I shed hot tears during that scene, let me tell you!

Manny works miracles in the children's lives. Eun Bi learns to sing and dance, Jung-min learns baseball. Yi Han teaches their mother to trust her children. As time goes by and they become more and more like a real family, Yi Han and Do Young fight romantic feelings for one another, a situation made difficult because of Yi Han's most important rule he has set for himself: to never fall in love with the clients whose children he is taking care of.

More trouble results when Janice starts to have feelings for Yi Han too, though he does not reciprocate them. She goes off the deep end when she's rejected and tells Yi Han to move out. Janice tries to set her sister up with blind dates as a distraction, but they are disastrous, and one even ends up in a fist fight between Yi Han and the date. A lot of tension results in the home they all share together because of all the complicated feelings going on, and eventually hard choices have to be made for the well-being of the children.

Then a major complication arises: the long gone, irresponsible biological "father" to the children attempts to come back into their lives (he's broke) and tries to win Do Young back. Do Young has matured a lot as a woman and parent since she met Yi Han, so his ambition to reunite is nowhere near a done deal, just because he wants it. The father can't compete with the incredible selfless Manny. Will the children's yearning for their father help to restore the family unit? Or will Do Young make a new family with Yi Han at the head?

This show boasts the second most romantic proposal I have ever seen in a K-drama (the first being the one in A Gentleman's Dignity), with the red yarn leading from one bedroom to another, with candle lights and rings awaiting the recipient. So, so beautiful!


If you enjoy family dramas then don't miss The Manny. I have watched it twice and loved it even more the second time around. If all men were like Yi Han what a beautiful world it would be!!! There wouldn't be so many fatherless homes around the world.

I watched this originally on Instant Netflix, it was there for three years, but then they sadly removed it. You can buy a DVD boxset for the drama on Amazon HERE