Hiya...I'm a 37 (updated) year old Black woman. I've been watching Asian dramas since I was a kid. Mainly Japanese. My dad was a jujitsu/judo sensei and his sensei was Japanese. So my dad learned a lot of Japanese and would introduce us to the films from the country.
So I was watching Jdoramas for decades. Then came Chinese movies, lots and lots of Chinese movies. They dominated my world. My favorite director is from China---and some of my most favorite films are from China...which led me into Hong Kong films---not television shows. I was already into Chinese and Jdoramas at this point. Filippino shows were already on my list.
Therefore, I was watching Chinese, Japanese, and Hong Kong films. Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino dramas by the time I was 21/22. I fell into a Korean drama before Hong Kong drama, Thai, or Taiwanese drama. I think the first Kdrama I saw was Snow White, then came Gong. I liked Kdramas. I was just never a fanatic.
I think unlike all others to AsianTV I wasn't a n00b. I was introduced to it as a child back in the early 80s; various kinds of them. Therefore, I'm always taken aback by some of the craze behind some things--- particularly the Kdrama phenomenon.
Anyway, I digress. After Kdrama, I feel into Taiwan---wow---I saw ISWAK [It Started With A Kiss] with Ariel Lin & Joe Cheng. I think for any n00b to Taiwnese dramas, that is the best drama to be inducted by. I mean I was lucky that it had just started when I was thrown into it. I felt blessed in a way because it opened my eyes to the best actors ever and led me to series of the greatest dramas and pairings that I follow. I follow them all the way to mainland.
Which guys, makes Taiwan so great and brings me back full circle in my bio---I go right back to my roots to Chinese dramas. I had taken a massive hiatus from them---like a good 6 years since I was living on Jdoramas and Kdramas. Taiwan brought me back and China was smashing some epic dramas. Hu Ge was rocking my world. At this point I'm in 2005-2009.
Lakorns (Thai dramas) are my most recent dramas. I used to even sub for them (I cleaned up the English and set up the timing). Which I got into more than 10 years ago. Wow, that's a damn long time now. That blows my mind.
This also doesn't include my foray into Turkish dramas (which are wow...just wow), Telenovelas, Brazilian dramas (and those are REAL dramas--damn) and all things Indian. My Filipino dramas have become very limited as of late---much like my Indian dramas my brain has issues processing the shift of English/Hindi or English/Tagalog mixing, respectively.
This is my bio of drama background. Extensive resume.
Lastly list of countries with the best dramas.
1. Japan - Human dramas, tragedies, romance is limited but well done, BL, Manga, Tantei (detective), family, EVERYTHING is good! <---Korea steals all their stories from them damnit].
2. China - mainland owns all of East Asia and knows it. They take everyone and puts them in their drama. You love a kdrama star. You will watch that drama in China. You love this Filipino star you will watch that drama in China...ditto for Japanese and Thai. Yes, yes. China owns my ass. China has some great stories for these great actors. Normally they're Rom-Coms. I tune to watch anything with Zhang Han.
***Turkey - They steal a few Kdrama stories twist them into their own and make them better. They are so good. They're dramas are so, so, so good. Ooops...Turkey so doesn't belong on this list---so it's a 3 not a 3.
3. Thailand - If you want over the top drama come to Thailand. They make me laugh and some cases cry...yes thats you Peuan Paeng. <--- Not over the top. Thai dramas in more cases than not are like the East Asian Telenovela. Instead of Aye Dios Mio! you're like Khun Phra Chuai! Instead of flipping your hair, you slap someone. Loving it! They also save all Kdramas. They make Kdramas worth watching. OMG, I hated Full House, when I say I abhor it. I couldn't stomach that drama. I was like, I'm not going to watch this version. The Turkish version was even boring me---it was good in the beginning and then I got bored. Thailand took it and I'm like Aomike---get married and have 20 babies. Please, today, tomorrow and forever! Thailand's Full House, I want a Pt. 2, 3, and 4.
4. Taiwan (went down b/c I'm on a Thai kick---Min & Max movie might bring it up again)- Great looking guys. Great female actresses. Overall great stories. Taiwan never misses a beat.
5. Korea - Sigh---I only watch Kdramas if I'm in the mood to cry. Even their Rom-Coms make you cry. Why? Why do their dramas want to lead people to suicide? I'm not throwing shade. But yeah, I'm not that much of a fan. I can go years without a Kdrama and be fine. The guys aren't that hot compared to the guys I'm seeing coming from above. A lot of the actresses are irritating me and Kpop is killing me---yeah. Not into the hype.