Lin Chong

Lin Chong

Lin Chun (zh-cp|林冲|p=Lín Chōng), nicknamed the "Panther Head" (豹子头), is a semi-fictional character in the classic Chinese novel, "Water Margin". In the world of published fiction, he was a former student of General Yue Fei's military tutor Zhou Tong.

Lin Chong stood at 6 feet 4 inches (192 cm), with fierce eyes and a head like a leopard, thus earning him the nickname. Being the most skilled and powerful warrior in the Liangshan bandits, he upheld justice and looked down on villains, literally. He lived a prestigious early life with a distinguished service as the training instructor of the 800,000-strong Imperial Guards.

Once, when accompanying his wife to a temple, he got to know the monk Lu Zhishen and both became sworn brothers. However, his beautiful wife caught the eye of Gao Yanei, the foster son of Gao Qiu, the high-ranking Song official and eventual nemesis of the Liangshan bandits. Gao Yanei tried to rape Lin Chong's wife by getting Lu Qian, Lin Chong's friend, to divert his attention away by asking him out for drinks. Luckily, Lin Chong returned in time and rescue his wife. Gao Yanei escaped in a frenzy.

Gao Yanei then asked Gao Qiu to frame Lin Chong. First, Gao Qiu sold a precious sabre to Lin Chong through a weapon seller. Then, Gao Qiu requested Lin Chong's presence under the pretext of wanting to see Lin Chong's new sabre. Gao tricked Lin Chong into the White Tiger Hall, where important meetings were held and weapons were not allowed in there. Unfortunately for Lin Chong, he was carrying the sabre inside the hall. Gao had him framed by charging him with attempted assassination and had him exiled. Gao bribed the escorts to finish Lin off in the wilderness. But Lu Zhishen, fearing for Lin's safety, had followed them all the way and protected him from danger when the escorts were about to murder Lin. Gao Yanei eventually got ambushed by Lu Zhishen's followers and they castrated him with a rusty knife.

Lin Chong, upon reaching Cangzhou, bribed the jailers with the money he got from Chai Jin whom he had met on the way, thus enabling him to live a carefree and easy life in prison. However, Gao Qiu, unsatisfied with Lin Chong's fate, sent Lu Qian to Cangzhou to bribe the jailers to kill Lin Chong. The jailers assigned Lin Chong to be in charge of a grain and fodder storage field. Later, Lu Qian and the jailers burnt down the field in an attempt to kill Lin Chong. However, Lin Chong escaped death by seeking shelter in a nearby temple. Lin saw the field on fire and returned only to meet Lu Qian and the jailers. Lin killed them all and abandoned the field, knowing that he would be executed for having all the grain and fodder burnt down.

Lin Chong got a recommendation from Chai Jin, and Liangshan eventually becomes the latter's home after an arduous journey across the country. Lin went on to kill the original ruler of Mount Liang, Wang Lun, for Wang presented himself as morally weak and poor in leadership; Lin was much more impressed by the charismatic Chao Gai and through some subtle prompting from Wu Yong, Wang was killed right before his deputies, Song Wan and Du Qian.

Lin also became instrumental in many of the important battles found in the epic tale, and his prowess in war was never doubted, together with his sense of loyalty and tremendous bravery. Lin Chong was also one of the five tiger generals of the Liangshan cavalry and amongst the highest ranked within the 36 Heavenly Spirits and was responsible for persuading some of the best people to join the Liangshan cause, such as Xu Ning. In the marine battle between Liangshan and Gao Qiu, Gao Qiu lost and was captured to Mount Liang. When Lin Chong learned of this, he immediately rushed to Gao Qiu with his sword, wanting to kill Gao for revenge. However, Song Jiang said that Gao Qiu was an important person to tell the Emperor about the peace negotiation between Liangshan and the Imperial Government, so Lin had to give up killing Gao.

After Song Jiang had obtained amnesty from the Imperial Court, Lin followed the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao Tartars and the rebels. On the verge of victory, Lin caught a disease which left him bedridden for almost half a year before he died.

Films and TV adaptations

In the 1997 TV serial from Mainland China based on the novel, Lin Chong was played by Zhou Yemang. Also, he died due to anger and frustration of not being able to kill Gao Qiu shortly after the heroes were granted amnesty in the TV serial.

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