Legendary Korean rock band The Cross debuted in 2003, introducing members Kim Hyuk Gun and Lee Si Ha to the entertainment world.
Lead singer Kim Hyuk Gun was known for his powerful vocals, delivering impressive performances with raw emotions, which contributed to the group’s popularity, and Lee Si Ha was in charge of piano, keyboards, and production for the group.
While the group wasn’t initially considered a commercial success, their song “Don’t Cry,” which was featured on their debut album, exploded in popularity and continues to be sung by fellow artists and fans as a popular karaoke go-to.
After a difference of opinion between the group members and their company, GF Entertainment, Kim Hyuk Gun decided to leave the group in 2005. The talented vocalist was replaced by Kim Kyung Hyun that same year, who remained the group’s vocalist until 2009.
Kim Kyung Hyun left the company following the completion of his contract. After Kim Hyuk Gun’s military service, he and Lee Si Ha resolved their differences and made plans to make a comeback as The Cross’s original line-up in 2012.
Their plans would drastically change after Kim Hyuk Gun was in a head-on collision that same year. A vehicle ran a red light and struck him while he was riding his motorcycle.
Kim Hyuk Gun revealed that doctors weren’t sure he was going to make it, and after multiple surgeries, he miraculously survived with life-altering injuries.
After the accident, Kim Hyuk Gun was paralyzed from the neck down. Lee Si Ha remained by his bandmate’s side throughout his hospital stay and physical therapy. He consistently encouraged Kim Hyuk Gun, promising they would be together on stage again one day.
Kim Hyuk Gun had one goal in mind during his recovery: singing again. His paralysis caused a decrease in his lung capacity that made even coughing difficult. His new singing voice was far from the powerful vocals he was known for.
The Cross vocalist didn’t give up, and one fateful doctor’s appointment two years after his accident gave him hope. Kim Hyuk Gun shared that during the appointment, the doctor pushed on his diaphragm to encourage him to cough. The motion made him realize that the force of the push helped him “produce a larger sound.”
Kim Hyuk Gun became aware of a device that mimicked the push against his diaphragm and began working with the biorobotics lab at Seoul National University on the prototype.
The machine became known as “Exo-Abs,” which helps users cough, speak, sing, and more. While the first prototype was manually operated, the most recent version uses AI technology to “regulate the pressure applied to the users’ midsection.” The machine is also programmed with specifics about the user to optimize its use.
While it resulted in minor side effects from repeated use in its earlier prototypes, The Cross singer felt it was well worth it to be able to sing as powerfully as he had before. “Exo-Abs” continue to be improved to help others with respiratory insufficiencies.
Kim Hyuk Gun continues to inspire with his story, and the group recently re-recorded their smash hit “Don’t Cry.”
They also recently appeared on the YouTube show King Of Returned To School Singer hosted by KARA‘s Youngji and BTOB‘s Eunkwang. Check out more on that in the article below!