Purpose - This analysis addresses the question of how the goals motivating policies around markets for supplementary education are supported and reflected (or not) in the subsequent structures for those markets. Design/methodology/ approach - Drawing on policy documents and empirical research on these policies, we examine the policy contexts and market structures the low-intensity form of supplementary education (SE) seen in the United States relative to the high-intensity case of Korea - specifically, the supplementary educational services (SESs) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the After School Programs (ASPs) in Korea, respectively. Findings - The analysis finds that Korea is using school-based SE programs as an alternative to existing SE markets in order to mediate perceived free-market excesses, while the United States is subsidizing SE markets to address the negative consequences of inequitable schooling. Yet, even in different contexts and purposes, policymakers in both countries see a value to supplementary education as part of their overall education strategy, despite a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of these approaches. This commonality is reflective of the larger neoliberal approach, evident around the globe, of using market forces such as competitive incentives and parental choice to drive policy toward social objectives. Originality/value - The significance of this analysis is the insight that these policy approaches, while different in context and policy specifics, represent an overall blurring of traditional distinctions between public and private organizations.