East Asia is perhaps the best-known of the world’s regions for shadow education in the form of both specialist enterprises and informal private tutoring. Japan is known for its juku, South Korea for its hagwons, and Taiwan for its buxiban. These institutions have been prominent in public consciousness for decades. In more recent times, Hong Kong and Mainland China have been “catching up” with other parts of the region.

This chapter begins with statistics showing the scale of shadow education, modes of operation, and socio-economic patterns of demand in the five societies mentioned. It then comments on the interplay between policy discourses in mainstream education and the expansion of shadow education, focusing particularly on commonalities. The chapter shows that despite cultural and socio-economic differences, East Asian societies are moving in the same direction in both mainstream and shadow education, albeit with some parts of the region having moved earlier than others. Policymakers and practitioners can learn from comparisons within and beyond the region. On the theoretical front, the study proposes a preliminary framework for conceptualising convergent policy enactment in societies of similar cultural traits from the perspective of shadow education.