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Fear of his father couldn't keep Kim Jong Il from Sung Hae Rim. He was completely besotted with her. He was a film buff, passionate about the movies, and she was a beautiful and famous star of North Korean cinema. The two had become "pals," says Sung, through this mutual interest.

Meanwhile, the actress saw the match partly as a way to lift political pressure from her own family. Her father was a wealthy South Korean landowner who sympathized with the Communists and moved north. In spite of that sacrifice, he was persecuted in his adopted country as a member of an enemy class. But politics was just one part of the actress's calculations, says Sung. Her sister was genuinely fond of Kim Jong Il and felt sorry for him because he grew up without his own mother.

If it weren't for his father's potential disapproval, Sung Hae Rang believes, the match might have proved much happier. "If circumstances had been different," she wrote in her memoir, "they could've made a great couple." Instead, no one outside a tiny circle knew they were partners until after his father died and was succeeded by Kim.

http://www.time.com/time/asia/covers/501030630/story.html

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“If it weren't for his father's potential disapproval,” definitely is referring to the past situation.

Then, doesn’t have to be ““If it had not been for”, as in "If circumstances had been different,", because all the grammar books are saying that "if it were not for" refers to the present, and "if it had not been for" refers to the past situation?
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pructusdoesn’t have to be ““If it had not been for”
have to is such a strong expression! No. Actually, it doesn't absolutely have to be If it had not been for. The substitute clause If it weren't foris often used instead, even though it's not technically correct according to the grammar books. Emotion: smile

This may have something to do with the fact that the verb is to be. The substitution of the past for the past perfect after if seems to be fairly frequent with this verb.

If he were smart, he wouldn't have borrowed so much money.
If we were in charge, we could have prevented them from making such fools of themselves.
If you were in a better mood, you wouldn't have screamed at the children like that.

To be on the safe side, use had been in your own writing, but don't be surprised if you see were in the writing of others.

CJ
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Thanks a lot, CJ....

I don't know how to arrange this into my head.

Then, I should think that grammar books, even written by native speakers, are not covering all the native speakers' sense of English...
pructusI should think that grammar books, even written by native speakers, are not covering all the native speakers' sense of English.
I give that a tentative thumbs-up! It is probably impossible for any book to cover every possible nuance of any language. There is just too much to cover, and only the main outlines are usually touched on. Besides, there are so many different varieties of English that the practical approach usually taken is to concentrate on that core of the language that is most acceptable to most people -- usually in academic settings. That doesn't mean that certain variants are not often used. Much of a language is learned only by observing how native speakers use it, not by spending hours studying grammar books -- though the information given in textbooks provides a good solid foundation to build on.

CJ
Thanks so much, CJ!!

Even though it's late, thanks....
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