Chung was born on 20 January 1925, in Longtan District, Taoyuan. Under Japanese rule, the subdivision was classified as a village by the name of Ryūtan, itself a part of Daikei, in Shinchiku Prefecture. His father was a schoolteacher and principal. Chung was sixth of ten siblings, and the only son. He enrolled successively at the Tamkang Middle School and then the Changhua Normal School, and later studied at National Taiwan University, but did not complete a degree in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, due to a bout of malaria. He learned to speak Taiwanese Hokkien at an early age, and was educated in the Japanese language. Chung taught at Longtan Elementary School until 1979, switching from Hakka to teaching in Mandarin at the request of the Kuomintang-led government. His knowledge of languages made Chung a member of the translingual generation. His first work was published in 1951, within the pages of the magazine Rambler. His first novel appeared as a serial within United Daily News, and over the course of his career, Chung published over thirty novels. His literary output also includes many essays, over 150 short stories, and more than forty works translated from Japanese. Together with his contemporary Yeh Shih-tao, the pair is known as "North Chung South Yeh." He promoted Taiwan nativist literature. Known as the doyen of Taiwanese literature, Chung's novel The Dull Ice Flower was adapted into a Golden Horse-winning film released in 1989. He was a recipient of both the Wu San-lien Literary Award and the National Literary Award, among others. Chung fell the week before his death, and subsequently lapsed in and out of consciousness. He died on 16 May 2020 at home in Taoyuan.
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