The paper begins with the premise that adults are behind the sinking of Sewol ferry, and the incident
should thus be understood from the perspective of adult education. This study seeks to take Nietzsche’s
philosophy, which has been academically neglected in the field of adult education, and reinterpret from the
viewpoint of adult education, in order to investigate the underlying roots of the disaster and explore future
directions for adult education. The paper introduces the concepts of Hannah Arendt, such as banality of
evil and sheer thoughtlessness, as a conceptual framework for analyzing the cause of the Sewol ferry
incident. The study insists that the sheer thoughtlessness is derived from the learned helplessness in adult
education. The paper, based on this, then examines the thought of Nietzsche on each of three stages that
contributed to the Sewol ferry incident. First of all, the banality of evil is discussed from Nietzsche’s
concept of slave morality and ‘the last man’. Second, the sheer thoughtlessness, which is the cause of
banality of evil, is examined with Nietzsche’s ‘way of thinking’. For the final point on which learned
helplessness is the cause of sheer thoughtlessness, Nietzsche’s concept of bravery required for a liberal
individual is analyzed with respect to adult education. In the aftermath of the Sewol ferry incident, the
paper argues for a reform in adult education; one that establishes a meaningful relationship with others.
This requires an understanding of Nietzsche’s break from slave morality whereby adult education would
become a place of learning that fosters the liberal spirit.