At age 16 Il-Ryun Chung began teaching himself to play the guitar playing and started composing music. In 1984 he went to Berlin, where he found his first teacher and supporter, Carlo Domeniconi. From 1989-1995 he studied composition at the Berlin University of Arts (HdK Berlin) with Prof. Jolyon Brettingham-Smith. A further encounter of great significance was his acquaintance with the Korean master drummer Kim Duk-Soo, who introduced Chung to Korean percussion music and thus made a lasting impression upon Chung's rhythmic perception.
From the very beginning, the collaboration between composer and interpreter has been central to the working out of Chung's compositions, which despite acute concern for idiomatic instrumental writing always place the highest technical demands upon the performers. Concertizing as solo guitarist, chamber musician and drummer for traditional Korean Music remains an integral part of Chung's musical life. In the year 2001 he co-founded the multi national ensemble IIIZ+ and in 2009 he co-founded the AsianArt Ensemble with instruments from China, Japan, Korea and Europe. 1994 he was awarded at the Berlin Festival for Guitar an Chamber Music, for his Movement in Circles II for flute and Guitar. He received several composition grants by the Berlin Culture Senate.
He created his distinct style of composition through his experiences in the two ensembles, taking into account both theoretical concepts and human interpretation. He also explored the practical feasability of playing polymetric rhythms.
From 1999 to now on he is working on the series of works „Studies of extended playing techniques for guitar“ and „The Untempered Guitar“. These two series represent the inner field of experimentation and they are the source for breaking up the equal temperament using scales with microtonal steps or microtonal tuned instruments like harp, guitar or zithers. Since 2000 he is occupied with computer based sample technique in order to try out polymetric ideas, completely new combinations of unknown instruments and also the new tuning systems and scales in a preferably natural sounding way.
In 2008 he got a commission by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra for the concert series „Ars Nova“,directed by Unsuk Chin and 2009 a further commission by the Tokyo Summer Festival for large ensemble. The two works „GLUT“ and „BENU“, which are belonging together are the most important works for pure western instruments in which the knowledge about complex structure of korean music, his own janggu-playing and the sample technique flew into one.
2009 he got a commission by Hwang Byung-Ki, the artistic director of the National Orchestra of Korea for a full-length orchestral work for korean instruments. In preparation for the work he visited the orchestra and sampled all instruments and designed an own sample library. Through studies on the archaic and very original korean instruments he got also the knowledge that dissonance is not only a matter of different tones sounding together but rather a single tone could sound dissonant through his inharmonic overtone spectrum. Because of these experiences he explored the sharpness, roughness and flexibility of a single tone as a structural element of the whole work. In october 2011 the 80-minutes long work „Part of Nature“ was premiered with great success in the National Theater of Korea in Seoul. In 2013 the work was performed again at the same place. 2011 the AsianArt Ensemble was awarded with the „German Record Critics‘ Award“ for their first CD. 2012-2014 he is directing the concert series "Gugak Lecture Concerts" in the Korean Culture Center in Berlin. 2012-2013 he wrote compositions for ensembles with asian and european instruments, among them „GRAVITY“ for daegeum, sheng, bass koto, and ensemble, commissioned by the ernst von siemens musikstiftung for the festival SOUNDSCAPE EASTASIA. 2014 his epic music theatre „KASSANDRA“ was premiered by the Gayageum Ensemble SAGYE & guests in the National Gugak Center in Seoul. 2016 he was composer in residence of the National Orchestra of Korea. 2017 he directed "Turbulenzen - Festival for actual intercultural music" in the Radialsystem V in Berlin
Since february 2014 he leads the composition/actual music department of the Akademie fuer Tonkunst in Darmstadt
In the composition study course unique in Germany, where students try out sketches and ideas every week, rehearse and hear their emerging work, the future composers learn composing in the midst of an almost lifelike musical environment.
In the likewise newly conceived course "Workshop" interpreters, singers and composers meet and develop the resulting music.
In the semester concert - which takes place once a year as part of the festival "Zeitstroeme - Tage für aktuelle Musik", all participants can present their work to an audience and experience the effect of their work under concert conditions
The composers-to-be become part of the "Ensemble Tonkunst" and act as musicians and performers or leading the ensemble if required.
The barriers and invisible boundaries between "musicians" on the one hand and "composers" on the other dissolve - composers as part of the musicians:
Just like the old masters.