In an excellent book review in the New Yorker, Ian Buruma considers Western admiration for the socialist paradise otherwise known as North Korea:
Bradley Martin quotes a British visitor named Andrew Holloway, who found the "secure and cheerful existence and the comradeship" of the "average" citizen "moving to behold." Despite having written a long book cataloguing torture, famine, and mass murder, Martin approvingly notes that readers of Holloway's account "not consumed with knee-jerk loathing for socialism might be hard-pressed to adjudge as evil beyond redemption a society so apparently successful in inculcating values such as kindness and modesty." My own impression, reinforced by Martin's book, is that North Koreans behave pretty much like all people forced to fight for bare survival: kindness is a dangerous luxury.
The poor-but-oh-so-happy sentiment pops up without fail in any crappy travel magazine version of a visit to Myanmar, Laos, or Nepal (and probably any other desperately poor and badly governed country), in which "the people" are always gleeful, generous, and colorful. I'm not exactly sure what it is about being ruled by insane dictators that makes people so damn nice, but here's an idea: If you're a Western travel writer, or, say, German tourist, and you're going to an impoverished country full of hungry people in which you clearly stand out as someone with money to spend, people might be extra nice to you.
Via Cafe Hayek.